Category Archives: Books

Books – A Different Story for Every Reader

When you pick up a book and lose yourself inside its pages,
you are creating your very own unique experience.
The way we see a book, its characters, its places,
and its plot, as we read, is exclusive to you.

Books are emotive, controversial, grounding, escapist, factual, fiction, and so much more. Books often mean different things to different people, and that’s fine. Some people have never picked up a book in their life since leaving school, some can’t live without them. I’m in the latter group. Books were everything to me as a child, and have remained a major part of my life. I was a loner, quiet and introverted, and books helped me survive the tough times. If you couldn’t find me, I’d be curled up somewhere with a book in my hand escaping into another world. I read, I drew, and I wrote.

Books became more than just reading material – they became what I wrote, and how I try to earn a living. I love creating characters, and worlds, and a tale people can escape to.

The Lord of the Rings – My writing – Of Zombies and Lies – A Symphony of Dragons, and Human 76 – © Lisa Shambrook

I recently said I have had trouble reading this year, and I have, it’s been an unsettled year, and the ability to curl up, untroubled, and read hasn’t been an easy place to find. The same could be said about my writing too, but I have opened a few books and lost myself in them. Twenty Twenty has been about finding comfort, and that’s been in both television and books. I rewatched all of Star Trek, currently rewatching Doctor Who, and I’ve been reading a Star Trek Enterprise book, and am rereading His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. The best bit is that I’m rereading (The Amber Spyglass) right now in tandem with Cait, who hasn’t read it before.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Clariel – His Dark Materials – My writing – © Lisa Shambrook and Bekah Shambrook

His Dark Materials, with its provocative and polemic ideas, is one of my favourite books, and alongside the books the current television series is also enchanting and enthralling me. I rarely look forward to a show as much as I do this one, we (daughter and I) literally squeal at the screen when it comes on each week, and both the casting and the adaptation’s writing has been superb. Every nuance and detail delights me.

Gormenghast – The Princess Bride – Novels – Human 76 – © Lisa Shambrook

It’s the epitome of escapism and fantasy and offers me a completely new world to live in. Cait and I were talking the other day about books and about how each book we read is different, each book is a different story to whoever reads it. When we read His Dark Materials together, what’s amazing is that inside our heads we are each seeing the story unfold in a unique way. Even alongside the television adaptation and the actors we see each week, it’s still different inside our minds. I first read the books fifteen or so years ago and the characters were unique to what I saw in my head as I read. The places, the developing narrative, everything that played out in my mind became my own interpretation. We talked about how the mulefa will be played out in the series on tv… (no spoilers please) and it’s a fascinating thought that every single person, including Philip Pullman who wrote the books, will have seen them differently. And that’s the magic of books!

Beneath the Rainbow – Windchime Cafe – Dead Sea Games – Tell a Beautiful Story – © Lisa Shambrook

I commented that maybe the writers of the current series will have to go to Pullman to decide exactly how to portray them, I mean, who better than the author – who imagined them up in the first place – to go to for advice? But it reminded me of a recent tweet Pullman posted saying:  ‘I can join in discussions about my books, because I too have read them, but my opinions have no greater authority than anyone else’s just because I wrote them.’

I love this!

Books are magic, they create worlds in your head, and if it’s different to someone else’s interpretation that’s okay. Your reading experience is yours, it belongs to you. And every book out there is a new world for whoever picks it up! What beauty there lies in that!

The Surviving Hope Novels – I found my family in a book – Under Rose Tainted Skies – A Symphony of Dragons – © Lisa Shambrook

So, if you’re inclined, go and pick up a book and lose yourself in the story, the description, the characters, and disappear into a new world for a bit. We all need a bit of escapism.

The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse – Ghostbird – The Castle of Adventure – A Symphony of Dragons – © Lisa Shambrook

Do you have a favourite book?
What do you read when you need to live somewhere else for a while?

Beneath the Rainbow – eBook Sale

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

Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook is on sale.


My publishers have got Beneath the Rainbow, the first book in the Surviving Hope Novels, on sale at B&N, Amazon, Nook, Apple Books and Google Play. The eBook is on sale at $1.99 (and between £1 and £1.62 on UK sites) for the whole of September.

You can find it at BHCPress’ Promotion Sale page, by scrolling and clicking on the book cover, then follow the links to whichever bookstore you wish to purchase from. Or buy the paperback from Bookshop.


Review: 5th January 2014: Beneath the Rainbow – “Once in a while a book totally stirs you and pulls you right in, this is it! “Beneath the Rainbow” captivates, enthrals and invites you on a magical journey of time as it moves beyond this life into the next. 
It is true genius how the author interweaves messages of hope and inspiration into the lives of the characters. Thomas teaches us how to fulfil our dreams and Freya teaches us how to hold on and when to let go. I recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with any kind of loss or anyone who just wants to enjoy a captivating read.
~ Mrs A.Read more: http://amzn.to/1hWDQJU

Review: 23rd September 2014: Beneath the Rainbow – “Beneath the Rainbow is beautiful. Not only in the carefully crafted prose, but the imagery Shambrook evokes is stunning and serene, even in the wake of tragedy.”
~ JWHRead more: http://amzn.to/1T88uQn


To find out more about Beneath the Rainbow, its sister books: Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star check out my website and learn more about my books and myself. There are also links here on my blog to learn more.

My Writer’s Life – how plans go awry…

I thought you might be interested to know how I plan and achieve (ahem) my writing strategies. I enjoyed writing this Writer’s Lives piece for IASD (Indie Author Support and Discussion) group and decided to share my squirrely ways with you too.

My Writer's Life - how plans go awry... The Last Krystallos

I’m a creature of habit, but like a squirrel I’m jittery and anxious. I like routine, but have a degree in procrastination. So, my writing habits are well planned with the best intentions, but not always successfully carried out.

My writing tools - scented candle, hot chocolate, chocolate, laptop, pen, notebooks, bluebells, crystals, hand drawn map, and memory sticks

© Lisa Shambrook

I begin my day with plans that fit my control freak personality, but go awry as soon as I hit social media. It always starts with ‘just checking my notifications’, but finishes a few hours later after having been distracted by posts, blogs, and shiny things… My problem is beginning, but once I’m there the words flow and I easily slip away into another world.

my writing tools - hot chocolate, scented candle, bluebells, chocolate, notebook, laptop

© Lisa Shambrook

My laptop – on my lap, where else? – is where I begin, in my lounge with my German Shepherd at my feet, a hot chocolate in my squirrel mug, and chocolate within reach. I like being surrounded by pretty things and though my house is a chaotic array of disorder and a carpet full of dog fluff, I like sensory things to keep me focused. I always have acorn cups or hazelnut shells beside me, sounds odd, but I did say I’m a squirrel… actually I deal with several mental health disorders including anxiety, panic, depression, and Sensory Processing Disorder, and acorn cups are my stim of choice. Rolling a polished hazelnut shell or acorn cup between my fingers calms and grounds me. I also like having a scented candle alight, and flowers and crystals close by.

Lisa Shambrook in a mossy forest with Kira German Shepherd

Out in the forest with Kira © Lisa Shambrook

You’re probably noticing that I ramble a fair bit… give me an inch and I’ll take a mile, but only with those I’m close to, otherwise I’ll keep my mouth shut and listen. Listening is fun – sometimes it’s what gives you a kernel of a story idea. Not just listening to people, but to everything. I let my mind wander, dog walks in the forest are perfect for this, and once an idea spins in my head I’ll be desperate to get it down onto paper. I fill notebooks with untidy notes and sketches. I’ll make maps, paint characters, and keep intricate detailed summaries, research, and annotations of every chapter that I write. I flip through these pages all the time as I write, and they are invaluable during edits and rewrites.

I’m a plotter, I like to know the beginning, middle, and end before I start, but as authors will tell you, our characters like to improvise and take us on journeys we didn’t expect, so you have to allow for digressions and detours. In real life I don’t like change, but in my writing life changes are exciting and inspiring! We writers are nothing if not a mass of contradictions. My first three published works were inspired by emotional issues and became a trilogy of three girls, three lives, three stories composed with the melody of hope. As grief is faced, hope becomes the only force to cling to and build upon.

Beneath The Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, Beneath the Distant Star by Lisa Shambrook ads

Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star

Since then, I have put together a lyrical collection of dragon themed short stories, and a unique collection of post-apocalyptic tales that weave together into a larger story with fourteen other lovely authors. Right now, I am rewriting and editing a fantasy series set two thousand years in the future where the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country… and the rumble of dragons has returned.

A Symphony of Dragons, Human 76, The Seren Stone Chronicles AD 2020

A Symphony of Dragons, Human 76, The Seren Stone Chronicles

I love writing and, as a skittish introvert, disappearing into an imaginary world is a solace that I’ve enjoyed since I first picked up a book as a child and vanished into my imagination. Come and join me!

How do you settle into writing, reading, or whatever you love doing?

BHC Press Online Book Store Launch

My publisher launches their online book store today
accessible at their website BHC Press and at their Storefont 
to help support Independant Bookstores.

BHC Press online bookstore launch
BHC Press is pleased to announce they have launched their new online storefront in conjunction with Bookshop.org to help support the independent bookstore community … and make their books more accessible to readers.

“We’re always looking for ways to help support the book community, independent bookstores, and libraries,” stated Joni Firestone, co-founder and co-publisher at BHC Press. “That’s why we’re so excited about Bookshop.org and the benefits and support they are providing to independent bookstores. There’s nothing more magical than a book, and we’re thrilled to lend our support and help to the book community.”

Over 200 titles are available for purchase at the BHC Press storefront, including many award-winning books for both adults and young adults. Books are available to purchase in both hardcover and trade softcover. Every purchase through their storefront benefits and supports independent booksellers.’

Read more at the BHC Press Blog

BHC Press online bookstore launch

You can find my books in the bookstore too – Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star, and A Symphony of Dragons, plus anthologies that I have contributed to, and a copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for which I wrote the forward and an original short story.

BHC Press online bookstore launch

Find your next book and your next favourite read… 

Reviews – Why they mean so much to Authors and Artists

Review: to think again. It’s about considering, assessing, and to offer an opinion, and how many of us love offering an opinion? Social media is all about reviews… we’re posting about our lives, reviewing what we’ve done, where we’ve been, and sharing our thoughts about it. These days, reviewing is just another part of our life.

Reviews - Why they mean so much to Authors and Artists - The Last Krystallos

So, since we’re doing it all the time, how about taking a few minutes – the time to write a status update – to offer a review to those who need them?

It’s my birthday week this week and when I’m asked “What would you like?” – right now, I’d just love a review.

Not a review of me, I think I’m open enough for everyone to know who I am, and I don’t need a rate! I’d love a book review or an Amaranth Alchemy Etsy review.

If you love and buy books, art, and jewellery you will appreciate the time, energy,
love, and passion that goes into writing a book or creating something magical.
This is how you can pay it back and forward…

small advertising photos of the Surviving Hope novels by Lisa Shambrook

The Suviving Hope Novels © Lisa Shambrook

Add to that list angst, frustration, low financial reward, and you’ve got what it means to be an author or an artist. There’s plenty of love and passion, days of writing and sculpting, or painting and crafting, with your muse whispering in your ear and the true wonder of watching a story, an adventure, unfold, or creating an item of beauty beneath your fingertips, but there are days and weeks when your muse goes AWOL, when your fingers bleed (figuratively), and you hate everything you write or create. Novel writing and art is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding.

You will have heard how writers and artists don’t have a choice in their craft, it’s intrinsic, it’s a part of us and we have to do it. Escaping into a world of writing or of intricate design is just what we do to survive. The wonder of it is that we end up with something beautiful and we can’t wait to share it with the world. Whether it’s a novel, or a painting, or sculpted silver, glass, or a piece of jewellery to treasure, we want to share our skills and talents with you.

Time is money, it’s a necessary evil, and we can’t give our talents away for free. Most eBooks are the price of a coffee and they last… your coffee is satisfying and gone within half an hour, but a book can satisfy for years for the same price. Books are significantly cheaper than video games, and comparable with your monthly payment to Netflix or Prime – create a literary library as well as a streaming library.

Review books - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Most authors and artists are introverts, we love hiding away writing and creating, but we also know that to sell our wares we need to market them. Marketing doesn’t come naturally to those of us who prefer to squirrel ourselves away and just create. Our publishers help, but many authors are independent – doing it all on their own – artists too, and we need help to promote our work. Even with a publisher, unless you are one of the very few who have huge Big Five Publisher budgets and promotion, you’ll be doing most of it yourself.

We can shout from the rooftops about our books and art, but visibility is key. If our work isn’t visible, no one knows it’s out there. Reviews on Amazon, Good Reads, Etsy, Ebay, and Blogs, or Facebook and Twitter statuses, photos on Instagram – they all help and offer visibility. The more reviews we garner on Amazon, for instance, will change algorithms and our books will be promoted more. You don’t have to like Amazon, but we have to deal with them, so any help is appreciated – more than you could ever know. On Etsy and other craft sites it’s important to share and help others decide if our products are worth purchasing.

advertising photos of A Symphony of Dragons and Human 76 books by Lisa Shambrook

A Symphony of Dragons and Human 76 © Lisa Shambrook

This is where YOU come in. If you buy our book, and read it, and you love it – or you buy our art, and display it and love it every day – or you buy and wear our jewellery, then the best way you can thank us for those days, months, or years of hard work is to write a review. Let the world know that the book or art is out there, that you loved it, and why you loved it.

You don’t have to write much, literally, just a sentence or two is worth everything to an author. Just award your stars and say what you loved. That works. Or you can write a paragraph or an essay, it’s up to you!

Amaranth Alchemy products

Amaranth Alchemy on Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

Over the last few years I’ve bought lots of glass beads and jewellery from Etsy and Ebay, the reviews I leave help those artisans to continue and to sell more. I tend to leave photos of pieces so other prospective customers can see them in a different setting too. I also have an Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy and I know just how important reviews are to new customers.

Books I've read and reviewed: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, Of Lies and Zombies by Angela Lynn, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Raven's Wing by Michael Wombat, Dead Sea Games by J Whitworth Hazzard, The Reaper's Bride by A J Richmond

Books I’ve read and reviewed: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, Of Lies and Zombies by Angela Lynn, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat, Dead Sea Games by J Whitworth Hazzard, The Reaper’s Bride by A J Richmond © Lisa Shambrook

I have read a lovely selection of books and part of my reading process is to leave a review for the authors on the platforms used to sell. I have written blog posts celebrating wonderful books and stories and I am so glad that I can help promote wonderful people sharing their amazing talents.

So, like I said, it’s my birthday week, and all I want is a review…

I know my book sales figures, but the number of reviews I have pales in comparison to the sales. Of course, not everyone who’s bought my books will have read them – I have hundreds of books at home and it’ll take years to read them all, but if you’ve bought and read one of mine, then a sentence shared on Amazon or Good Reads is a gift for me that I will appreciate forever!

Reviews and why they are impostant to Authors and Artists - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Support those who create the art that allows you to escape into adventures
and other worlds, and those who give you beauty to enrich your lives.

Take a moment, just ten minutes, to leave a review for a struggling author or artist
– it will mean the world to them.

Narberth Book Fair 2019

This weekend sees the annual Book Fair at Narberth, West Wales.
It’s also the same weekend as the Narberth Food Fair,
so if you’re looking for something to do…
kill two birds with one stone and find food for your belly and food for your mind.

Narberth Book Fair poster 2019It’s less than 100 days ’til Christmas, so this is the ideal place to find books for the Bookworms in your life. Signed novels as stocking fillers, what could be better?

The postcode for the venue, Queens Hall, is SA67 7AS, and is half an hour or so from Carmarthen. We have Free entry to the Book Fair, so if you’ve paid for the food fair, get a bit more value for your money and pop next door to us too!

There will be 50+ authors, competitions, workshops, and lots more. I will be there on Saturday 28th September, sharing a table with Thérésa Hedges-Webb, and you’ll find us with plenty to offer you. Between us you’ll find YA, contemporary, short stories, dragons, vampires, sci-fi, and more.

Thérésa Hedges-Webb and Lisa Shambrook 2018

Thérésa Hedges-Webb and Lisa Shambrook 2018

Here’s an interview with ThérésaCheck out the Narberth Book Fair website and find out about our authors, here’s my page. And you can read an interview with me here. Narberth Book Fair has its own blog with interviews and posts about our authors and books.

Have a look at the Book Fair’s Facebook page to find out about all the attending authors. There’ll be someone to suit you and your reading tastes.

I will be showcasing my new covers since becoming published by BHC Press and check out my Special Offers, only available at Narberth this weekend. Come and see us and tell us what you love to read!

Book Fair Special Offers AD for Insta

Surviving Hope trilogy, A Symphony of Dragons, and Human76 by Lisa Shambrook

Surviving Hope trilogy, A Symphony of Dragons, and Human76 by Lisa Shambrook

 Come and see us, find your new favourite book and meet the author.

Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September 2019

10am to 4pm – Free Entry.

Narberth Book Fair

Book Spine Poetry

Sometimes when you’re feeling tired or uninspired and you need to
find your creativity, you can find it in unexpected places…

A few years ago I discovered Book Spine Poetry and had a go. This week, after meltdowns and shutdowns I needed to recover my imagination and found it on my bookshelves!

Poems can be long or short – whatever you choose – just grab a few titles and see what you can conjure up.

Bookspine poetry - An Inspector Calls - Love in the Present Tense - Reasons to Stay Alive - The Last Krystallos

An inspector calls love in the present tense,
reasons to stay alive.

(J.B. Priestley, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Matt Haig)

Bookspine poetry - Across the Wall - I Capture the Castle - The Castle of Adventure - The Last Krystallos

Across the wall – I capture the castle,
the castle of adventure.

(Garth Nix, Dodie Smith, Enid Blyton)

Bookspine Poetry - How to Stop Time - Just One Look - Second Star - Hat Full Sky - Slow Regard Silent - Linger - Hold Tight

How to stop time, 
just one look, second star to the right, 
and a Hatfull of Sky.
The slow regard of silent things, linger…
Hold tight.

(Matt Haig, Harlan Coben, Deborah Hautzig, Terry Pratchett, Patrick Rothfuss, Maggie Stiefvater, Harlan Coben)

Bookspine Poetry - Snow Sisters - Linger - Before I Die - The Last Krystallos

Snow sisters linger, before I die…

(Carol Lovekin, Maggie Stiefvater, Jenny Downham)

Bookspine Poetry - The Ice Dragon - Catching Fire - Falling - Across the Wall - Looking for Alaska - The Last Krystallos

The ice dragon,
catching fire,

falling across the wall,
looking for Alaska…

(G.R.R. Martin, Suzanne Collins, Sharon Dogar, Garth Nix, John Green)

Bookspine Poetry - If I Stay - Tell No One - The Last Krystallos

If I stay…
Tell no one.

(Gayle Forman, Harlan Coben)

0000. Divider

Tell me what’s on your bookshelves and make poetry…

Give it a go.

 

Bringing Books to Life – Painting Surviving Hope Covers

I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream – Vincent Van Gogh
I loved creating cover art for the Surviving Hope novels.
Picking up my paint brushes was an inspiration
as much as writing the books themselves.

Bringing Books to Life - Painting Surviving Hope Covers - The Last Krystallos

When the Surviving Hope novels: Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star, were rereleased, my new publisher BHC Press requested cover art in a similar style to A Symphony of Dragons.

4. A Symphony of Dragons Cover Art Evolution - Lisa Shambrook BHC Press

© Lisa Shambrook

I had to do something I’ve already done within my writing, and that was to find my art voice, my style. When I see an image in my head it’s like a photo, and I had to accept that the realism in my head was not what would end up on the canvas. My style is like my writing, swirly, romantic, and poetic, but mine.

I’d painted my Symphony dragon a year earlier and I set up an art studio on my dining room table and began sketching. The most testing thing was discovering how to paint rainbows. The majority of painted rainbows are bright childlike bows full of block colour and that wasn’t what I wanted. I had to find several tutorials to get an idea, and the trick is to stipple dry white paint across the arc of the bow before you build with colour. Rainbows are faint, translucent, and very difficult to capture! I was using acrylics, and with hindsight, as I’m currently painting in watercolour, a translucent media would have been easier.

Beneath the Rainbow Painting Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My rainbow is not a recreation of anyone else’s… it iridises with chalky pastel light above my bluebells. Bluebells feature within Freya’s story and the hours I spent breathing life into them were very enjoyable.

Beneath the Old Oak Painting Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak’s cover was always going to be an oak with acorns, and was my most confident subject. I’ve painted trees before, and the sturdy oak would protect Meg when life got unbearable. Acorns always represent new life and strength to me and it was comforting to paint them.

Beneath the Distant Star Painting Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then I had to create stars. It became my favourite painting, and after pages of failed dusk skies I finally got one that worked. Jasmine would stare up at the stars, trying to live up to her sister on one hand and battling to vanquish her memory on the other. I’ve stared up at many twinkling indigo skies trying to defeat my demons and harness wonder in much the same way in my own life.

Artists often lack confidence in their work and it wasn’t until I saw the covers, framed and titled, that I loved them. They brought the three books together, weaving the stories of three girls and their lives with the melody of hope.

Painting Seren Stone Covers - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Right now I’m working on The Seren Stone Chronicles, and while the first book has been with beta readers I’ve been painting again. The Seren Stone covers will need to coordinate and follow my branding and I’m loving developing images for them. This time I’ve been working with watercolour instead of acrylics and it’s been beautiful to discover a forgiving and radiant medium to bring my dragons to life.

Surviving Hope and Symphony Paperbacks - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The Surviving Hope novels are available in eBook and paperback from most online retailers, all links are found on my website and at BHC Press. You can also buy signed and discounted paperbacks from my own Etsy shop, Amaranth Alchemy, too.

Three girls, three lives, three stories composed with the melody of hope.

Freya’s death sends ripples through many lives as Meg loses her best friend, and Jasmine, her sister. Lost dreams need to be found, hidden family secrets need to be unearthed, and grief must be embraced before ghosts can be laid to rest.

These beautifully composed tales of coming of age, mental health, and the struggles of finding yourself, begin with grief and culminate with hope. As grief is faced, hope becomes the only force to cling to and build upon. Freya, Meg, and Jasmine need to survive with hope.

Surviving Hope Novels - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat – Enchanted and seduced…

Sometimes a book comes along that both entrances and seduces you,
and I was mesmerised by
Michael Wombat’s The Raven’s Wing.

The Raven’s Wing - Michael Wombat - Enchanted and Seduced Mediaeval Mystery and Magic - The Last Krystallos

I’ve said it before, I don’t often blog about books, I love reviewing them, but every now and then I’ll be so blown away they have to feature on my blog, like Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt. I’m a sucker for a book that draws me in with fantasy and quirky magic.

I’ve read several books by this author before, and always loved them. He has a knack for portraying truth and using description to weave you right into the story. We also collaborated, a couple of years ago, on Human 76, where Michael Wombat was a vital part of collating and helping to create a very original collection of stories.

The Raven's Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing is a labour of love and the resulting book is an incredibly authentic mediaeval novel with a hint of truth and chronicle behind it. Read the blurb:

They say you should follow your dreams. They never tell you what to do when the dreams start following you.
The year is 1322. Minstrel John has enough on his plate with his wife’s funeral. He could do without the naked woman who keeps forcing her way into his dreams, the angel dropping skulls in the village church, the stranger that attacks him for no reason, and the sexy, one-eyed, fire-dancer who is after only one thing – his music. Then there are the voices in his head, compelling him to investigate a mystery that just keeps on growing.
Based on a true story, this is not history, this is the 14th century as experienced by those who lived there, and who saw it as the leading edge of time. As John discovers, demons and magic can be very real.

white and dark feathers by the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The story begins with an intensely erotic dream, if you know Wombat’s writing you’ll know nothing daunts him, down-to-earth honest, bawdy realism and coarse language intertwine with sheer beauty and descriptions that will whisk you away to another time. After this you are introduced to John, a simple minstrel, and his friends as they deal with the loss of John’s wife. It could be an unassuming tale, but John’s life takes a turn that will change him forever as a mysterious skull is found at the funeral.

You will be drawn into his life and the mystery that shrouds him. You’ll love his friends and you’ll cheer John on as he humbly searches for answers. Wombat will take you on a tour of mediaeval Britain complete with myth and magic, and you’ll be left wanting more.

Print of Winter's Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Print of Winter’s Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Now, think about the 14th century and imagine you want to write something that truly reflected the period… I asked Michael Wombat about how much research went into The Raven’s Wing:

‘Since I first heard Steeleye Span’s ‘John of Ditchford’ 20 years ago I’ve thought it’d make a good root for a story. When I finally got round to building a proper tale around it, it took 6 years to research and weave a satisfyingly deep story around what was in real life a thuggish murder. I made sure to keep copious research notes (thank you Scrivener!), and included the most interesting things I discovered in the Notes at the back of the book.’

The back of the book Notes are a real treat. Knitting realistic 14th century dialogue, words, places, and much more into a modern-day written story isn’t easy, though Wombat has done it so well; the tale is both fluid and beautiful to read. Chapter-by-chapter Wombat analyses and explains his terms and wordage to both educate and fascinate you.

Six years of research must have brought up intriguing facts and stories, so what was his favourite?

‘The most fascinating part of the research for me was the songs I discovered. Songs of love, lust and weird stuff aplenty. And of course the medieval recipes.’

A friend of mine, Miranda, recently made Pentecost’s waffres, and said they were delicious!

I said earlier, once this tale is done, you’ll be left wanting more. Michael Wombat commented:

‘As for the future, I’m putting together a pocketbook of ‘Raven’s Wing Extras’ – sketches I made while writing the book, behind the scenes stories, character backstories and so on. Beyond that, I kind of left Jenifry and Moss with a massive cliffhanger – one day, maybe, I’ll write their continuing story.’

I definitely want more from this period of time and Wombat’s characters.

Michael Wombat and The Raven's Wing

© Michael Wombat

I am a big fan of Wombat’s writing with many of his books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves, and I look forward to reading more. Wombat is an eclectic writer with a penchant for the extraordinary, and reading his bio will let you know what you’re getting yourself into:

A Yorkshireman living in the rural green hills of Lancashire, Michael Wombat is a man of huge beard. He has a penchant for good single-malts, inept football teams, big daft dogs and the diary of Mr. Samuel Pepys. Abducted by pirates at the age of twelve he quickly rose to captain the feared privateer ‘The Mrs. Nesbitt’ and terrorised the Skull Coast throughout his early twenties. Narrowly escaping the Revenue men by dressing as a burlesque dancer, he went on to work successively and successfully as a burlesque dancer, a forester, a busker, and a magic carpet salesman. The fact that he was once one of that forgotten company, the bus conductors, will immediately tell you that he is as old as the hills in which he lives. Nowadays he spends his time writing and pretending to take good photographs. You can have a good laugh at his pathetic blog or his photographs, but most of all please go and mock him mercilessly on Twitter or Facebook. Michael Wombat has published over one book. Other authors are available.

Please follow him most actively on Twitter, find him on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, at Cubic Scats and sign up for his Patreon for new and exciting stories.

My last words for The Raven’s Wing – sometimes I get lost in stories because they seduce me, sentences inspire, and the story takes me somewhere completely new. Maybe you’d like to visit the 14th century? Go on give it a try… you won’t be sorry!

The Raven's Wing - Michael Wombat book coverYou can buy The Raven’s Wing

from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

It’s seriously worth every penny.

Colour, Crystals, and Writing

My writing is full of colour.
As a descriptive writer colour is important to convey
atmosphere, environment, and emotion.

So, while the first book in The Seren Stone Chronicles is with beta readers,
I’m painting and playing.

Colour, Crystals, and writing The Seren Stone Chronicles - The Last Krystallos

First off, crystals are inherent in my Welsh future. After apocalyptic events in our century many changes occur to the foundation and appearance of the earth, meaning that rocks and crystals take on new traits and qualities.

I like pretty things – that’s obvious – and I’ve been collecting crystals and gems for years. I’ve done a fair bit of research into crystal therapy and it interests me greatly. If we believe in molecular power then why not in the vibration and essence of rock and crystal?

Secrets Universe - energy, frequency, vibration - Nikola Tesla - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Heather Askinosie, who writes at Energy Muse, said in an article worth reading: Do crystals really work? There is much debate regarding this question, as scientists say there is no hard proof to show that they do. However, every ancient civilization has utilized crystals in a vast variety of ways—from healing to offerings to protective talismans. And Quartz Crystal has been on this Earth since the beginning of time.

Crystals for The Seren Stone Chronicles - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

She goes on to talk about the fact that over 90% of the earth’s crust is made of silicate minerals, about 46.6% Oxygen and 27.7% Silicon, and when these two combine they create silicon dioxide which is in its pure form Quartz Crystal – comprising about 12% of the earth’s crust. Quartz is currently used in electronics, watches, lasers, and IT. Magnetic particles have been used in tapes to record music; you can just imagine how vibration and the energy in crystals could be used. The value of crystals may be much greater than we currently understand.

Crystal Colour Wheel - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

In my written world crystals and gems are used in many ways and are vital to medicine and technology. The most important stone in my world is peridot, formed, like diamonds, in molten rock and brought up to the surface in volcanoes and earthquakes. The vast changes in geography have not only returned dragons but brought geological change too. My protagonists wear talismans and I loved designing and painting them. When I feel overwhelmed I often work with my crystals, both in a therapeutic way and just to relax. Creating colour wheels was both restorative and fun.

Painting The Seren Stone Talismans - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

This takes me on to painting. I painted the covers for The Surviving Hope Novels and A Symphony of Dragons but haven’t painted since, so picking up my pencils and sketchpad has been good for me. I’m painting aspects of The Seren Stone Chronicles: gems, characters, scenes. In the end they’ll serve as inspiration for the covers, but right now they’re just delighting me, helping me give my expressive self a voice, and it’s a tranquil break from writing.

Painting The Seren Stone - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’m enjoying experimenting with watercolours for the first time. I’m a heavy acrylic painter, so trying out watercolours, both pencils and pans, is revitalising and fun. While I wait for my beta readers to come back with their thoughts, I’m hoping to fill my sketch book with dragons and crystals and colour.

Crystal Colour Wheel - Fluorite centre - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I find working with colour both calming and inspiring,
and these couple of months will refresh me leaving me ready
for my soon-to-do edits.