Author Archives: Lisa Shambrook

About Lisa Shambrook

A writer and dreamer who loves dragons... Author www.lisashambrook.com and co-owner Amaranth Alchemy on Etsy etsy.com/uk/shop/AmaranthAlchemy

Nature Heals…

Summer arrives with green forests, fragrant flowers,
and the soft breeze of growth and abundance…

Tell me what nature does for you?

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order - John Burroughs - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

It’s my lifeline…

Unfurling Ferns, Sunkissed Periwinkle, Mossy Foxglove - The Last Krystallos

Unfurling Ferns, Sunkissed Periwinkle, Mossy Foxglove © Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about nature?

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How to be Greener – and Save our Planet

Most of us are working on becoming better people
– more aware environmentally, socially, and consciously.
This post offers ideas on how we can become greener.

How to be Greener – and Save our Planet - The Last Krystallos

I’m currently writing of a future society who’ve suffered from our somewhat unconscious attitude to the environment. They feel passionately about keeping their renewed world environmentally safe. We need to be thinking perhaps not centuries into the future, but rather about making the world better for our children and our grandchildren. Hopefully, from there change will happen and grow. 

It’s a bit-by-bit process. It’s incredibly difficult to change your life completely, so the best thing we can do is change one thing in our life at a time. We must be careful not to judge each other – we all change at different times and at different speeds. Just because I can afford a Stainless Steel water bottle doesn’t mean someone else can yet. The bottle will save me money in the long run, but not everyone can afford the original cost of an environmental bottle in one go. Becoming environmentally aware and active is a process and every single change for the better is a step in the right direction.

Pick one thing to change and keep at it until it’s natural/habit, and then pick another. Bit by bit we can become greener and more environmentally friendly.

So, here are some ways we can preserve the Earth and help save this planet:

Sho Stainless Steel Water Bottle - the last krystallos

SHO Water Bottle – water © Lisa Shambrook

Stop buying so many plastic bottles – I bought a SHO Stainless Steel Bottle because I carry water with me everywhere.

Drink tap water not bottled water – studies have shown there’s not much difference between the two, if any, and bottled water is ridiculously expensive, and companies like Nestle are often unethical in the way they procure water.

Reusable Shopping Bags - Glass Jars - Hot Choc - the last krystallos

Reusable Cloth Bags – Glass Jars – Homemade Hot Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

Start using reusable cloth bags instead of plastic bags. Supermarkets are working on reducing plastic bags and the time when they stop providing plastic bags completely is likely not far away. Take bags with you whenever you shop and make it a habit.

Store food in glass jars – this might not eliminate plastic packaging when you buy, but you can buy more or bigger bags in bulk and lessen the waste.

Stop using Cling Film or Food Wrap – new alternatives like soy or beeswax wraps are becoming available, again the more the demand the cheaper they’ll eventually become.

In the UK the government is now phasing out plastic straws and is talking about phasing out wet wipes too. Help this initiative along by reducing your use, or switching to paper straws and environmentally friendly wipes.

Make your own – find online recipes to make your own hot chocolate, or buy loose tea and coffee – so you don’t need to buy these items in plastic tubs, or tea in tea bags – some companies still use plastic in their tea bags.

Seanik Shampoo Bar Lush Tin - Bath Bomb - Lip Balm - the last krystallos

Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar – Handmade Bath Bomb – Nivea Lip Butter © Lisa Shambrook

Use shampoo bars kept in a tin or dish – no plastic bottle, no parabens, silicones, and additives. I have thin hair and the Lush sea salt Seanik shampoo bar has given my hair great body and shine.

Try moisturising Bars – instead of hand creams etc in plastic dispenser bottles – try Lush or Etsy or local handmade bars mine is Turkish Delight from Naked Sister.

Lip balms are often packed into tins these days, Nivea Lip Butter is my favourite with Vanilla and Macadamia, and Blueberry Blush, but several other brands also do this.

Turkish Delight Moisturising Bar Naked Sister Label - the last krystallos

Turkish Delight Bar – Naked Sister © Lisa Shambrook

Menstrual cups and washable cloth sanitary pads are a great way to be environmentally friendly at that time of the month – this can wipe out the use of a lot of plastic, and will save money in the long run. It can be difficult to spend out in bulk but perhaps try one or two brands of pad until you find what works for you, but them when you can afford them.

Cloth nappies – as above, a large outlay, but perhaps ask for them as gifts, buy during your pregnancy, spread the cost. I believe the prices are getting lower as more parents use them. We all know the damage disposable nappies do to the environment and if we can, reusables are the way to go.

Fruit and Veg from Green Grocer - Grow Salad - Compost Wormery - the last krystallos

Green Grocer – Homegrown Salad leaves – Wormery © Lisa Shambrook

Have a go at growing your own or buy local from green grocers – grow fruit and veg in tubs or in the garden. In the long run it’ll be cheaper than the supermarket. If you can’t grow your own then buy from Green Grocer’s, again cheaper, local, and less plastic packaging. You can’t beat veg from your own garden for convenience and taste!

Compost Bin or set up a Wormery – Most councils do recycle food waste, but even better if you can recycle your own and use the compost to help grow your own.

You can also blend your food waste (veg peelings, fruit, rind etc) and liquidise with water and use it as plant food. Some Wormery’s also have a run off of liquid that works brilliantly to feed your garden.

Eating Vegetarian or Vegan regularly can change up your diet and help the environment. Try it several times a week or commit for life – it saves water and money.

We all get frustrated by the rubbish that gets posted through our front doors… Opt out of Junk Mail – save paper.

Change all incandescent lightbulbs to fluorescent or LED – save energy.

Reduce reliance on paper towels – many people use tea towels, scraps of material, and I even saw someone’s suggestion of a supply of 7” squares of flannel in the bathroom instead of toilet paper – (only for drying wet use) and keeping used pieces in an old antique chamber pot, then washed in a wash net with usual washing. Not sure I’m ready for this one yet…

Woollies - Washing Cold - Cleaning - the last krystallos

Woollies – Wash Low Temperature – Cleaning © Lisa Shambrook

Turn your thermostat down by at least one degree. Cut your timed heating. Wear jumpers and sweaters if you’re cold.

Use your washing machine on the coldest setting for most washes – this will save energy and money.

Clean with baking soda and vinegar – cheaper by miles, and keep mixtures in mason jars – there are plenty of ideas to be found online for homemade cleaning products.

Lastly, don’t buy chewing gum – made from plastic, latex, talc, colours and fillers – go on look it up – used to be made from gum from the sapodilla tree but not for a long time. Almost indestructible and bad for the planet, it’s not a wonder than several cities have banned gum completely!

There are many more ways to save this planet, this is just a set of ideas,
somewhere to start… but please tell me more in the comments.

Plastic - Polluting Our Oceans - Earth - the last krystallos

How do you save the Earth, reduce plastic, and save money?

Inside Looking Out… – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Luis Serrano Mid-week Flash Challenge - Inside looking out

Photo: Luis Serrano

The moth bumbles and fidgets, dusty wings flapping, growing in earnest panic, but the electric bulb remains lost to it behind the window pane. Light floods the room, seeping through glass, throwing shapes and shadows out onto the lawn, but the moth is incapable of seeing the freedom within its darkness. It only sees light, shining like a beacon, magnetised like love, and it lurches and pitches at the glass tossing its tiny body at the one source of everything it wants.

Soon, exhausted, it will stop, simply cling to the window and gaze. It has no choice. Until the light goes out the moth is committed, imprisoned on the wrong side of a cell. All the world exists open and free, but until the light is vanquished the moth is bound.

How sad to be trapped within desire for one true thing.

Light is not always the answer.

Sometimes darkness and adventure, failure, excitement, desire, and longing live in the shadows. What does a moth know if it spends its entire life staring at a flame behind glass? Sometimes you need to get burned.

I’m in that room. Light blinds me. I am saturated, full up to the brim and ready to escape to the shadows. The moth believes the light will answer everything, but I need the gloom of the penumbra to ponder and hide.

So I press my nose to the window backlit by light, my sweaty palms flat against the glass, condensation dripping like tears. Fingertips curl and claw as panic rises up into my throat and the bright light burns like fire on my spine. The moth continues to flutter and tap against the pane, its desperation and craving matching mine.

The light behind me is clicked off and my eyes take a moment to adjust. Black obscurity, behind the glass, opens up as my sight adapts and the moth takes off into the dusk. How I wish, trapped behind the glass, prisoner of light, I could switch places with the little winged creature and explore my dark places, the twilight world, and flit between realms and spheres – utterly free…

0000. Divider

I’m melancholy right now and very introspective, so Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and photo from Luis Serrano, hit home.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 – Stressed Out

Mental Health Awareness Week is this week 14th – 20th May
This year’s chosen theme via the Mental Health Foundation is
Stress and how we’re coping.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 – Stressed Out - The Last Krystallos

Stress is generally our reaction to being placed under pressure, and how we cope when control is either out of our hands or maybe we are losing control of a situation.

Mental Health Foundation - Stress - The Last Krystallos

© Caitlin Shambrook

I recently blogged about control issues, so if losing control is what puts you under stress, take a look.

Stress is like fog. You might be watching it looming in the distance, or you might wake up to it, or it might descend without any notice.

If you can see it looming it may be easier to cope with, you may have time to prepare or make plans that could help allay the stressful situation.

If you wake to it, like fog on an autumn morning, you may find yourself having to deal with stress without any warning.

If it suddenly descends it can often feel like you’re drowning and out of control.

Misty Meadow - Mental Health Awareness - Stress - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Everyone suffers stress to some level. Some people deal with stress easily, some relish it and work better under pressure, some struggle hugely and then it can affect their mental health adversely. We’re all different and no reaction is the right or wrong one.

I don’t deal well with stress as it exacerbates and intensifies my anxiety and panic disorder. It will affect my IBS and cause nausea, stomach aches, upsets, and pain. People can suffer other physical symptoms too such as headaches, tiredness, insomnia, chest pain, sweat, clenched jaw, and a higher risk of colds and infections. Symptoms that affect your mental health can include irritability, panic, depression, exhaustion, self-harm, and anxiety.

If stress is affecting your life then take whatever steps you can to reduce it by removing the cause if you can. This isn’t always possible, in which case you need as much support and understanding as you can get, but if it is at all possible then take action.

Misty... Move away from the box... the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Stress often induces the Fight, Flight or Freeze reaction, and these are physical responses. When you know your response you can learn to deal with your reaction. My instinct is always flight. Stress causes anxiety which leads to panic and finally a panic attack. A panic attack will either lead to flight or self-harm with me.

Just the other day I was at the Dr’s surgery and had to wait, after my GP visit, to see the nurse. I was there early and the waiting room was almost empty, but as I waited for an hour the number of patients grew and the room filled up. The noise level rose, babies, children, coughing, crackling chests, and lots of people. I don’t deal well with crowds, and finally people sat either side of me and I tried to ignore everything. I was prepared with a book, and I kept my head down reading, but it got to the point when my anxiety swelled, panic began to bubble beneath the surface, tingling in my veins. The receptionist assured me I’d be seen within five minutes, and she was lovely, but it was too late. I had no control over the panic attack that had brewed. I sat back down, trying to convince myself that five minutes was nothing, I could make that, but as tears welled there was no stopping the onslaught of full blown panic attack and I ran. With the help of CalmHarm, an app I’ve been using on my phone, I calmed down within a few minutes, enough to return and get called into the nurse. Once with her I dissolved and she talked me through the panic attack.

Pen y bont Elan Valley - Mental Health Awareness - Stress - the last krystallo

© Lisa Shambrook

There are many ways to deal with stress and you have to learn what works for you:

Stay positive, do all you can to keep positivity in your life.

Try meditation, breathing exercises (CalmHarm has helped me greatly with using breathing to stop a self-harm urge or panic attack), relaxation techniques, mindfulness and many other CBT cognitive behavioural therapies.

Ecotherapy (that’s a new name for nature!) go on walks and spend time in nature.

Keep a Mood Diary see what triggers or causes your stress.

Develop a strong support network, family and friends can be there for you when you need them.

Be honest, especially with your employer, teachers, friends, and family. In general people will want to help and support you.

Good sleep and exercise can be very beneficial. If stress is causing insomnia see your GP for help.

Accept there are some things you won’t be able to change, but help might still be available. (At the Dr’s surgery I had to wait my turn to see the nurse, but she explained that I could in future ask to wait in a quiet room if I’m feeling too anxious.)

Eat well and stay healthy.

Know your limits. Sometimes you need to say ‘No’.

Try not to rely on drugs if you can, but also know what drugs do work for you. (I am currently taking Propranolol and it’s working wonders for me. I am waiting for counselling, but while I’m not coping drugs are the right thing for me.) Anxiety medication or antidepressants, or sleeping aids can work and help reduce stress.

Rain - Mental Health Awareness - Stress - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Life is full of stress – that’s not something we can change, but how we deal with it will define us and help us to cope. Learning coping skills and ways to deal with stress will enhance our lives. Perhaps the best thing we can do to help alleviate stress is to help those around us to feel support and love, and if we are in a position of authority – as an employer for instance – then compassion and understanding will help improve relationships. Respect, compassion, and support will work wonders.

How do you cope with stress?

Focus on ‘small wins’ don’t chase big achievements.
Do the little things and use it as a springboard
whatever you can do be proud of it! – Mind

Spring’s Symphony of Dragons

Let the Song of Dragons Lead You…

A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook - Purple Ad lower

Marketing books is not easy – writing them is much more fun!
But if you’re looking for a new book this will tell you everything you want to know about A Symphony 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.

Seven tales which will introduce you to my storytelling, if you haven’t read anything of mine before, and will enchant you. These are stories that move from very short to epic, and will leave you wanting more. Every tales entwines the theme of dragons, from stories about actual dragons, to the slightest hint of the refrain…

Symphony and Spring ad the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, here’s what you’ll get:

Change – The seasons arrive on dragon wings…
A Symphony of Seasons – If you thought you knew how the seasons arrived
– think again. They arrive with dragons.

A Symphony of Seasons © Lisa Shambrook

A Symphony of Seasons © Lisa Shambrook

Desire – A dangerous love potion…
The Apothecary’s Art – He’s looking for a love potion,
but going to get much more than he asked for.

The Apothecary's Art © Lisa Shambrook

The Apothecary’s Art © Lisa Shambrook

Love – Carving love in ice…
Between Ice and Fire – It’s a freezing morning when Laine comes
across an ice sculptor – will he carve a place in her heart?

Between Ice and Fire © Lisa Shambrook

Between Ice and Fire © Lisa Shambrook

Belonging – The finale…
Freya’s Dragon – A fitting and inspiring closing tale to my Hope Within Novels
(soon to be renamed Surviving Hope) which can also be read as a standalone story.
Freya, Meg, and Jasmine find peace.

Freya's Dragon © Lisa Shambrook

Freya’s Dragon © Lisa Shambrook

Passion – Dancing beneath la luna…
Noctilite Tryst
– When dragon’s find their soulmate it requires passion, fire,
and a dance beneath the moon.

Noctilite Tryst © Lisa Shambrook

Noctilite Tryst © Lisa Shambrook

Sacrifice – Atoning Steampunk…
The Paroxysm – Faced with a ferocious dragon battle, steampunk Captain
Jericha Blacklocke and her crew make a devastating choice…

Paroxysm © Lisa Shambrook

Paroxysm © Lisa Shambrook

Triumph – Arianwen’s legend…
The Legend of the Seren Stone – The Daenmawr has attacked post-apocalypse Wales, and only Arianwen can conquer the beast.
She becomes the legend that accompanies my forthcoming Seren Stone Chronicles.

The Legend of the Seren Stone - Arianwen - art Hither the Wind - Tahina Morrison and J Edward Neill

The Legend of the Seren Stone © Lisa Shambrook – art: Hither the Wind by Tahina Morrison and J Edward Neill

Please visit my website to find information and links to purchase. This book is available in print and eBook at your local Amazon. All the purchase links and availability can also be found with my publisher at BHC Press. You can also purchase paperbacks at a reduced price at my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy

Please remember to add A Symphony of Dragons to your Goodreads Want to Read list and scribble out a reviewyou already know how much I’d appreciate that!

Symphony_Lisa_Shambrook_Ad_Release

The First Breath of Spring…

Spring is the breath of new beginnings, of fresh green growth,
and the jewels of Mother Earth lifting their heads to nod in the breeze.

The First Breath of Spring - The Last Krystallos

The first colours of spring appear to be green and white with splashes of blue, yellow, lilac, and pink.

Snowdrops are the first of Mother Nature’s little ones who peep through the frosty mornings to offer us the hope of spring. Hellebores, Christmas roses, throw out their very best with simple flowers and fancy doubles. They’re quickly followed by tiny crocuses and narcissus and then full blown, blousy daffodils.

Christmas Tree - Oak - Daffodils - Primroses - Cowslip - Abies Koreana new growth

Christmas Tree – Oak – Daffodils – Primroses – Cowslip – Abies Koreana new growth © Lisa Shambrook

Fresh growth on trees as they begin to dress with buds of lime-coloured leaves and blushes of blossom. Magnolia will be one of the first to robe its trees with a flush of ivory or pink, and cherry blossom won’t be long to follow. Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn is one of the first clusters of pink to flower on shrubby twigs with a scent to linger beside.

Ragged Robin - Blossom - Mallow - Valerian - Aquilegia - Hellebore - Tulip - Virbunum Bodnantense Dawn

Ragged Robin – Blossom – Mallow – Valerian – Aquilegia – Hellebore – Tulip – Virbunum Bodnantense Dawn © Lisa Shambrook

Primroses and cowslips adorn the meadows and gardens with tiny sunshine flowers, and white wild anemones unfurl their fairy wings in woodlands, right before bluebells carpet the forest floor. Vinca (periwinkle), and forget-me-nots begin the blue, with chinodoxa and primula.

Crocus - Primula Denticulata - Chinodoxa - Forget-me-nots - Vinca - Wild Violet - Bluebells - Aquilegia

Crocus – Primula Denticulata – Chinodoxa – Forget-me-nots – Vinca – Wild Violet – Bluebells – Aquilegia © Lisa Shambrook

Wild oxalis, garlic, violets, and campion spread through the countryside, and ragged robin nods its shaggy head in the warmth of spring. Valerian pushes through wherever it can, determined and strong, and mallow and aquilegia begin to clothe our gardens. Belle Etoile (philadelphus – mock orange) fragrances the air with beauty and heaven, and lastly, spring tulips will open as the sun dances – and heralds the hope of summer.

Snowdrops - Belle Etoile - Wild Anemone - White Campion - Magnolia - Hellebore - Oxalis - Wild Garlic

Snowdrops – Belle Etoile – Wild Anemone – White Campion – Magnolia – Hellebore – Oxalis – Wild Garlic © Lisa Shambrook

What is Spring to you?
Which flower do you look forward to most?  

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic…

Sometimes a book resonates with an emotional response you didn’t expect,
but it draws you in and you fall in love – Carol Lovekin’s Ghostbird does just that.

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic... - The Last Krystallos

I don’t often blog about books, the last times I did were The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt and I have to be enchanted or moved before it hits these pages. My reading genres are eclectic, I like a bit of everything, but I fall heavily for beautifully written fantasy, a little romance, and quirky magic.

I was browsing my books and read the caption on the reverse of Ghostbird from Rebecca Mascull who said ‘Carol Lovekin’s prose is full of beautifully strange poetry.’ and I began reading.

This is the tale of Cadi, who doesn’t know who she is. She’s never been told anything about her father, she can taste the cloying secrets, and she is determined to uncover and break the spells about her. Her mother, Violet, is distant and lost, and her aunt, Lili, is bound by a promise she desperately wants to break.

The Hopkins women are well known in their little Welsh village, and they are surrounded by a cloak of mystery, flowers, magic, and a little bit of local scandal.

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - trying out words - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Carol Lovekin’s writing enthralled me, from beginning to end, and I truly did fall in love. She writes with poetic leaning, creating beauty and an enticing story. This is my kind of writing, with description that made me feel like I inhabited Cadi and Lili’s lives. The story has an ethereal quality and this is even more prevalent with the inclusion of the ghostbird of the title. This book unravels the secrets regarding the Hopkins women with a little myth and magic along the way.

The story of Blodeuwedd, from the Mabinogion, is referenced throughout, something I loved having studied the Four Branches of the Mabinogion with my daughter last year. This meant I was already up to speed with Blodeuwedd’s tragic story.

Cait's Blodeuwedd Owl mask - The Last Krystallos

Cait’s Blodeuwedd Owl mask © Lisa Shambrook

I asked Ghostbird’s author, Carol, about including the story of Blodeuwedd and how it had inspired her:

‘The idea for Ghostbird was a slow burner. I read the myth of Blodeuwedd (from the Mabinogion) in the early 80s and was immediately struck by the notion that her fate: to be turned into a bird, was a curse. As an owl, Blodeuwedd could surely find her freedom by flying away? It was yet another woman’s story begging to be retold from her perspective. So many legends and myths are of their time (and written by men) and by definition, patriarchal.

The idea stayed with me until, years later it re-emerged as the backstory to Ghostbird. At first I planned for the ghost’s voice to be incidental, albeit relevant. It was my astute editor who insisted, the ghost had to play a more prominent role. It was a joy to take the bones of the myth and turn it into the soundtrack to my modern ghost story. And in the process, to discover, that’s what I write: ghost stories!’

When I first read Blodeuwedd’s story I’d come to a very similar conclusion – despite the fact that being turned into an owl was essentially a punishment, it seemed to me to be a poor punishment, as it meant she finally had freedom. She’d been created without thought to who she was, and made for someone else’s pleasure, and rebelling against that had caused retribution, but to me she was given freedom and final liberty.

The use of myth and legend within fiction is something that inspires me. My current work is based on a myth, but a legend of my own writing. I resonated with Carol’s words about most old fairytales and myths having been written by men with suffering women within the stories, so writing my own legend, which you can find in A Symphony of Dragons, meant creating a woman resilient enough to carry the myth on her own. The resulting legend, threads through The Seren Stone Chronicles which I am currently enjoying writing.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I loved Ghostbird, because Cadi’s story echoed similar themes I’d explored in my own books. Beneath the Rainbow and Beneath the Distant Star both dealt with grief and loss, and mother daughter relationships, and Beneath the Old Oak spoke of family secrets. Ghostbird moved in different circles, with beauty, grace, and fierce women determined to protect and discover who they are. This is a book that will stay with me, for its magic, emotion, and tender charm.

Carol Lovekin is published by Honno a Welsh Women’s Press committed to giving opportunities for talented women in Wales to see their work in print. Carol’s stories reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of Wales. She is a committed feminist and has always found fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women’s collective stories. She began writing with a view to publication in her late fifties, having ‘suffered from arrested development for far too long.’ She now writes to keep up.

Ghostbird is her debut novel and Snow Sisters is her second book.  

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - old magic will hear - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My parting words for Ghostbird are that so often I read sentences that just spoke to me, that described my own feelings, my own experiences, and it’s not often that an author can climb inside your head and touch you. This book touched my heart, the vulnerable bits and the happy bits.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - Honno Press
You can buy:
Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin from Honno
from your local bookstores,
on Amazon UK Kindle, and Paperback.

Please visit her blog for further information and links.

Hanging out at the Book Fair Book Cafe

I’ll be taking part at the Llandeilo Lit Fest on Saturday 29th April… See you there!

writerchristophfischer

Book Fair and Book Cafe

Every year in April there’s a book fair in Llandeilo, an integral part of the Lit Fest with many authors being part of the festival programme as well. Local authors show off their books and are available to talk about their work and sign books. Get to know the talent that’s sitting in our very back garden.

This year we are collaborating with The Hangout to create an even cosier Book Fair and Book Cafe ambience. Sit down, have a coffee and hangout with the authors.

The Book Fair will be held  between 11am and 4pm Sat 28 and Sun 29 April at the Llandeilo Civic Hall on Crescent Road.

With over 30 local authors showing off their work it’s a good job that  food and drinks will be provided by Llandeilo’s very popular  cafe / breakfast venue The Hangout.

The Hangout  are special…

View original post 407 more words

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?

0000. Divider

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.