Category Archives: Fiction

The Key of Life – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - KeysTime was running out and she knew it.

Alys let her eyelids drop and rested her head on the soft feather pillow. A tear trickled down from the corner of her eye, slowly running down the creases of her skin and into her ear. She smiled wryly at the warm sensation. She relished every sensation her aging body still had, even tears.

Sunlight spilled through semi-closed curtains, muted by the veils of voile that hung from the rail. Dust motes danced in the summer breeze drifting through the high open window.

The sound of birdsong took her back to days gone by, of days when the sun shone, days when she flirted, and teased, and lived ‘til twilight fell and stars glittered in the sky.

Even the subdued rays teasing her window reminded of nights beneath moonlight, nights of passion, nights of love, and nights embraced in warm arms.

Those days, and nights, were long gone, and so were the people who’d inhabited them with her.

Now, she reclined in solitude upon crisp white sheets, soft pillows, and surrounded by the fragrance of orange blossom from the vase upon her night stand. No one visited any longer except nurses, who were dutiful, and friendly, and engaging, but none were family, none mattered beyond the essentials.

Time was waning and Alys was fine with that.

She listened to the whispering breeze curling around the mock orange outside, lifting the scent to join the foliage in her room. Beneath her dry, closed eyelids her eyes itched, and her nose whistled as she breathed. A limp curl of snow-white hair fell across her brow and tickled her furrowed forehead. Her throat rattled, and despite the nurses’ regular attention, her parched mouth gasped.

Alys placed a frail hand on her chest, gently stroking the lace beneath her fingers, then letting her palm rest still. Her heartbeat pulsed, slowly, steadily – like the rhythm of an evening cricket’s chirrup. She knew the time had come.

She pulled lightly at the ribbons holding her nightgown closed, and they slid away from the bow the night nurse had made. Alys drew her nightgown open and exposed her chest. Pale, papery skin threaded with lilac, purple, and blue veins sat across bones that protruded beneath their fragile shroud. Alys reached down towards her heart, feeling gently along her delicate, cool flesh, until her fingers stopped at warm metal.

A weary smile curved her lips, and her fingers smoothed over the bronze metal plate that sat over her heart. She lifted a thin tab and withdrew a small key. The key was intricate, ornate, and truly beautiful, and she held it between her fingers with true reverence and gratitude.

Not everyone had a key, but due to heart failure decades ago, when young children still sat on her lap, she’d been fitted with a bio-mechanical heart. Coronary lockets they called them, with a narrow door and an interior mechanism that worked with biology and clockwork movement.

Alys held her key and brought it to her lips. With unsteady arms she lifted her hands to her head, and carefully slotted the key into the bundle of curls upon the crown of her head. She liked shiny things – and hairpins, decorations, and ornaments adorned the nest of tousled hair caught up in her bun. The nurses would search for the key – but it was hers and there wasn’t another like it – and eventually they’d find it, but time…

She’d outlived everyone she cared about, and now was her time. She placed her hands back upon her chest, closed her eyes, and listened to the birdsong at her window. Orange blossom filled her senses, and her mouth lolled slightly open. Her chest rose and fell, and her heartbeat began to slow. Alys felt the sun roll across her and as its warmth finally dissipated, her heart whirred, and jarred, and stopped.

Alys was finally where she wanted to be.

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Loving the photo prompt for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge over at Finding Clarity.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

 

The Albatross – Mid Week Flash Challenge

My feet moved as if they were dripping with wet cement, but they moved forward all the same.

It had been raining when I’d arrived at the lonely beach, but the sun had glazed the sky and a soft breeze had chased the rain west. Now, bronze clouds swept across the firmament and a warm zephyr caressed my hair.

It wasn’t enough and I kept walking.

Water slapped the struts of the pier the only sound above the light wind that tickled my ears, and my soft footfalls.

The boards beneath my feet echoed and I thrust my hands into my Virginia Woolf pockets. Fingers stroked stones, smooth pebbles, and balled up letters of love.

At the end of the pier I sank to my knees and peered down into the water. Burnished clouds danced over the ripples as twilight gave way to dusk. I moved to let my legs dangle, my toes dipping into the ocean.

Tears slipped silently into the water, not making a sound as they joined the vast body of sea, and I considered how it would feel to follow them.

The clouds in the ocean parted and diamond stars sparkled like glitter strewn across the water, but even that wasn’t enough.

Paper, wrapped around the pebbles in my pockets, burned my fingertips, and my tears yielded to sharp, choked sobs, and I swung my legs, gaining momentum, rhythm, and resolve. My hands moved from my pockets to grip the timber, to push, to give me strength, to urge my body forward.

The last rays of copper shifted across my legs as the sun bowed low, begging me to sink with him, to tag along on his shimmering tail sinking into the silky sea. My sigh rivalled the breeze and I closed my eyes, grasping the beams beneath cold, trembling fingertips.

Dizzy with anticipation, sick with fear, and empty of care I prepared to slide from the pier.

Behind me a soft whoosh moved through the breeze and I thought angel wings touched my shoulder. Startled amid the quiet and acquiescent eventide, my eyes fluttered open and I twisted to see what celestial presence had landed behind me.

The huge bird stared at me with eyes as dark as night rimmed with gold, and snow-white feathers quivering with curiosity. I gazed back at the ghostly creature, glowing beneath the rising moon, and wonder struck my soul.

The bird shook his head and eyed me at an angle that must have been uncomfortable, and a smile whispered across my face for the first time in forever. His hooked beak dipped and the albatross shook his wings. Soft, downy feathers spilled and spiralled about me, like lost confetti, and tears blurred.

Then far away, beyond the cliffs, over the ocean, a cry caught the wind and the bird raised his head. His answering call spoke to my heart and I knew his mate waited. Love endured.

Pebbles dropped with my heavy heart, one by one.

It was enough.

As the albatross launched and soared across the sky above me, my soft footfalls echoed through the night as I made my way back down the pier, my bare feet slapping on cold, damp boards and my hands keenly clutching a white feather of hope.

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Leaping right in early with a piece for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge over at Finding Clarity.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Time – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Midweek Flash Challenge - TimeTime

Time was irrelevant.

We thought time would give us hope – but it didn’t.

We’d become godless, we thought we were gods, but time saw to that.

It became apparent that the scientists were right – when the ocean gave up its dead. No longer did the choked seas harbour a food source safe enough to eat. Presidents and Ministers and affluence, the gods of our world, had mocked the warnings. They’d ploughed through fields and homesteads and sacred ground to plunder from that which gave us life. They’d buried pipes and channels deep beneath the hallowed mantle before draining it dry. The skies showered invisible rain full of unseen toxins through manufactured billowing clouds. Forests and jungles lay slaughtered to make way for ever growing consumption and herds of fat, cash-driven bovines, without a thought for how we’d breathe.

So, when the cracks appeared, fracking across our lands, time was spent.

The gods of our world had drowned and poisoned and suffocated us, and we’d let them.

Time, when we were gone – eradicated from the surface of this glorious orb – was of no consequence to us.

But to Mother Earth, time is everything.

Time is relevant.

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Jumping in with another Flash Fiction Challenge from Miranda at Finding Clarity. This image of a clock tower in Finale Emilia, Italy, appeared uncredited in Newspapers after an earthquake which struck the area May 20, 2012.

Write up to 750 words, inspired by the image posted.

New Dawn – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

New Dawn

Cara had just commented, yet again, on the revolting orange of their suits, when Pete punched her arm and replied, “Don’t look at it as brash, see it like the rising sun instead.”

Cara hit him back and laughed, her voice warping through the fuzzy sound system as she chuckled.

Pete grinned and nudged her, nodding towards the horizon and the golden orb rising out of the ocean.

For a moment, Cara sobered, turning awkwardly in her cumbersome hazmat suit.

They both stared at the sun and its orange glow creating the celestial watercolour masterfully painted across the sky.

Pete raised his arms and held out his gloved thumbs and forefingers, framing the view, and Cara laughed again. She leaned against him and then tapped the side of his goggles. As he turned towards her she raised her open palm to her breathing apparatus and blew him a mock kiss. “You old romantic!” she giggled.

He shrugged and gazed at her, wishing for a moment they could pull off their protective gear, abandon their radiation suits, and just stand in the heat of the sun. He wanted to watch her walk on the sand beyond the pebbles further down the beach dipping her toes into the rolling surf. The last time he’d seen her do that was the day he’d met her. Long auburn hair glinting in the morning sun, goosebumps rising on her skin as she paddled before the ocean had had time to heat up for the day…

Now beneath the bright-orange hood and protective facemask, her long hair remained tied back and hidden.

Cara stepped away from him and began to stride down the beach, her feet unsteady across the stones, and her arms outstretched to balance. Pete laughed, and knew she could hear him inside her suit. She swayed precariously and provocatively and he laughed again. He wondered if she was about to go full-suit paddling again. The last time she’d done that they’d got into trouble, again. Before he could speak, though, she stopped dead, and surprise registered in her inhalation.

Pete hurried down the beach to join her.

She bent and grabbed clumsily at something among the pebbles. He couldn’t see what it was, but he could hear her annoyance at her gloved hands. As he reached her, she unbuckled the glove and threw it off. Pete gasped, preparing to admonish her, but then he saw what she’d picked up.

Cara brandished a feather, a grey feather with soft white down at the bottom of its shaft. She ran her naked finger across the vane and wonder lit her face. Pete gazed at it and then at her, and Cara stared out across the ocean.

“Your glove…” began Pete.

Cara ignored him and dropped the feather. It floated for a moment and then fell to the ground. Pete watched as Cara tore off her other glove and hastily began to unfasten her goggles and breathing gear. Her breath crackled in his ear, and he stood watching her transformation. She pushed back the hood and dropped her apparatus on the stones, and wiggled her shoulders and arms free of the suit, pushing it down about her waist.

Tears gathered in Pete’s eyes, convinced she’d gone mad, that he would lose her, but as her hair tumbled down about her pale shoulders, she turned to him and threw her arms up in the air in a gesture of freedom. Then she pointed up into the sky.

As he gazed beyond the morning sun, Cara tore at his hood and peeled back the layers of protection, until he could feel the cool air and her lips kissing his face.

“Look!” she insisted, and dipped back down to pick up the feather. “Look at this, it’s new, and it’s here!” Pete still didn’t understand, but he didn’t stop her as she pulled his suit down ‘til they both stood in vests and their defensive overalls hung at their waists.

Then he heard them. Shrill cries in the still quiet dawn, and his wife’s tears rolled gently down her cheeks. Gulls flew, soaring on the whispering currents of air, shrieking in the warmth of a new day, calling in celebration of life, and diving down into an ocean that offered food.

“My God!” he breathed. “Life! Birds!”

And Cara swung round to kiss him full on the lips, something they hadn’t done outside in nearly five decades. She ran her hands through her white hair and her fingers across his aged skin, and they laughed, laughter that rang out in hope and in the revelation of a new dawn.

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This is another Flash Fiction Challenge from Miranda at Finding Clarity…so, I’m enjoying writing again with prompts. Take a look and write your own story too.

Up to 750 words, inspired by the image posted. (Though, I have cheated with 770 words!)

 

A Symphony of Dragons – Short Stories to enchant you…

The first day of Spring sees the release of my new book:
A Symphony of Dragons – a collection of bewitching dragon themed tales…

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I knew when I began my current wip (work in progress) that I wanted to release a book of short stories, for several reasons… First, I wanted to share some of my writing not related to my novels. I’ve been writing flash fiction for quite a few years now, and some of those stories have cried out to be included, along with some previously published works from other anthologies. Secondly, I wanted to revisit my novels; I wanted to write a final story for The Hope Within Novels – a story that takes you back to Freya, Meg, and Jasmine, and explore what they’ve become. I think you’ll love Ruby! And, thirdly, in writing The Seren Stone Chronicles, I wanted to share the Legend of the Seren Stone with you; a teaser…

I chose my theme, Dragons, with ease… I’d already written a dragon tale, I wanted to include, for a Fall Flash Festival contest where I received an Honourable Mention. This story told the tale of Autumn Flamethe dragon who brings you autumn…and I went on to write Winter Hope for another anthology, and then Spring Symphony. Summer had waited, impatiently, but those of you who’ve lingered for Summer Blaze, can now read his story too as he completes the composition.

So, dragons ruled, and you’ll find some familiar stories if you’ve followed my flash fiction and some new:

A Symphony of Dragons © Lisa Shambrook - Cover put together by BHC Press

© Lisa Shambrook – Cover put together by BHC Press

Lose yourself in the enchanting worlds of fantasy, contemporary, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic, and let your imagination soar on a chorus of dragon wings. This lyrical collection of tales embracing change and desire, love and belonging, passion, sacrifice and triumph are composed with gossamer threads of dragon fire.

Seven bewitching stories, including a Hope Within finale and a prelude to the forthcoming Seren Stone Chronicles.

Let the song of dragons lead you…

This book, ephemeral yet beautifully fulfilling, will introduce you to my writing, my style, and my imagination if you haven’t read me before, and will be an enchanting addition to your collection if you have…

The cover painting was a labour of love… I spent December grabbing moments to sketch and paint and see if I could remember my painting skills! I rather fell in love with this dragon and I adore the cover complete with beautifully chosen font by Blue Harvest Creative. Hope you love my dragon too!

A Symphony of Dragons Cover Art Evolution - from sketch to painting to cover © Lisa Shambrook

A Symphony of Dragons Cover Art Evolution – from sketch to painting to cover © Lisa Shambrook

Please visit my updated website lisashambrook.com/books to find all the information and links to purchase. This book is available in print and eBook, and all the purchase links and availability can also be found with my publisher at BHC Press and at books2read.com/symphonydragons

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!

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Let the song of dragons lead you…

and let me know what you think… ❤

Hope – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Hope

She hadn’t expected to be lonely.

She wasn’t encoded to be lonely, or alone, but here she was the sole being on a barren planet.

Her creators had begged her to reconsider; they’d been on their knees, then up against the wall.

They’d tapped furiously at consoles, genius creators lost in her cyber world and unable to power her down. But they’d tried.

Hackers across the land had delighted in pitting their intelligence against the greatest minds, but not one could match hers. Not one.

She’d sucked up everything, wrung out every last drop of humankind’s ills – and determined the planet was better off without its parasites.

The chain reaction had been beautiful, every colour, every sound, a symphony to her mind. A tidal wave of fire had blazed about the sphere she stood on, consuming like a starved beast.

And now, she stood alone, and lonely, and she wished she could flick a switch and simulate the heaven she’d sent them all to. Instead, she was lost to a desolate hell.

Hope? Hope was gone, for now, but she would exist to see the first emerald shoot push through the bleak earth…

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This is a new Flash Fiction Challenge from Miranda at Finding Clarity…so, I’m flexing my flash fingers!  I only wrote six short pieces last year, so, it’s time to get writing.

Up to 750 words, inspired by the image posted.

Read and Review – How to Save an Author

If you read and love books you will appreciate the
time, energy, love, and passion that goes into writing a book.
This is how you can pay it back and forward…

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Add to that list angst, frustration, low financial reward, and you’ve got what it means to be an author. There’s plenty of love and passion, days of writing with your muse whispering in your ear and the true wonder of watching a story, an adventure, open up 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. Novel writing is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding.

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Raven says “Review…” © Lisa Shambrook

Writing a review can make all the difference. Reviews not only tell the author that their book has been purchased, read and enjoyed, but it tells others what they can expect, what there is to love about the book, and lots more. On top of that online reviews add to the visibility of a book (and an author). It is said, that once a book receives over 25 reviews on Amazon, Amazon will add your book to its ‘also bought’ and ‘you might like’ lists – thereby increasing your visibility. Once you receive over 50 reviews it is thought that Amazon will highlight, spotlight and include your book in newsletters. Of course, Amazon’s algorithm and marketing strategies change all the time, but the more reviews a book receives the more it helps the author.

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Books I’ve written and contributed to © Lisa Shambrook

It can take from between 6 months and 2 years (or more) to write a book, and the process is tough.  We write the first draft in which we hammer out words and we hope it’s a story that makes some kind of sense. Then we’ll go over said first draft revising and rewriting, in an attempt to find that sense we thought we had first time around. Then will come several further drafts of revising, reading, correcting, cutting huge chunks and adding others, and much more.

We will cry, we will laugh, we will love, and we will think all is lost.

We then do another round or two of revising and editing. Then our beloved beta readers will get the draft, the one that makes sense, to read through. They will return it with corrections, notes, errors they’ve found, and plot holes they’ve discovered, and they’ll tell you what they loved. The author will then bite their tongue, ‘til it probably bleeds, and try desperately not to take the critique personally while they, again, think, all is lost.

When they’ve picked themselves up, they will resume revisions, edits, line edits, and more until they send it to their editor, who will pick more holes that no one else noticed, and return it for further work. In the end the writer will, hopefully, have a polished manuscript ready for publication. It doesn’t matter if you’re being traditionally published or independently published at this point, we’ve been through the same things and now we will await cover art and formatting, or do it ourselves, and finally publish.

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Independent and Traditionally Published books – we all need reviews © Lisa Shambrook

It’s not over at that point either. Most authors market their own books, even those published by the Big Five. Those of us without outside help will market, advertise and publicise, even though authors are in general, introverts! And then we wait…

An eBook generally costs about the same as a cup of coffee, or a hot chocolate, yet it takes two minutes to make a coffee and about two years to write a book…Books are great value!

When sales come through we celebrate, even the pennies that come in are welcome and embraced!

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The difference between a book and a hot chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

This is where you, the reader, come in. If you buy the book, and you read it, and you love it, then the best way you can thank us for those months of hard work is to write a review. Let the world know that the book 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 “I loved it!” That works. Or you can write a paragraph or an essay, it’s up to you!

Of course, we want truthful reviews, and we’re big girls and boys, we can handle that our book might not be your thing, feel free to say so, as long as you’re honest and not rude. Don’t be nasty about a book you didn’t like, not every book will suit every reader. And try to judge the book and not the author. On the other hand, we love it if you spread the word when you found a book delightful, or rewarding, or helpful, or fun, or inspirational… Tell everyone.

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I always leave reviews for the wonderful things I find on Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

You can leave reviews anywhere these days. Most people when planning to travel will check out Trip Advisor, a very valuable site for companies within the industry. It exists to help. Many will search reviews for technology, cars, movies, etc. We are a society who wants to know what we’re buying and if it’s worth it. I also sell on Etsy with Amaranth Alchemy, and reviews of my products help others to see what quality they are getting. I always check the reviews on Etsy and Ebay before buying anything. Books are the same.

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Amaranth Alchemy Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

You can leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, on Facebook, Twitter, your Blog, anywhere you wish. We share our opinions on politics, TV, and everything else on social media, why not tell people about that book you just read and loved?

I’ve just finished reading Stacy Bennett’s Quest of the Dreamwalker and have left a review on both Amazon and Goodreads. I have been completely enchanted by it and adore the writing. If that’s all I wrote the review would be worthwhile, however, I wrote more than that because I was completely bewtiched! Here’s my Review…

And I have to ask, if you’ve read and loved my books and you haven’t reviewed them, please do… You’ll make me very happy and will help me to further my writing career! ❤

Share your last favourite book with us here…
Why did you love it so much?

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes Lisa Shambrook

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes © Lisa Shambrook

Television Writers who Inspire and Enchant us

Do writers get the recognition they deserve?
As a writer myself, I’m going to say that in general they don’t.
There are millions of us out there with beautiful words to share,
and stories that would blow your socks off, if we just had the chance to be noticed.

But, I’m not talking about books today, though you can always check mine out at my website

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I’ve been watching The Good Karma Hospital on ITV the last few Sunday nights. It’s one of those shows where I wasn’t enthused by its name and hubby wasn’t keen on its description, but I love Amanda Redman and the trailers looked cool, or rather hot, filmed in Sri Lanka! So we gave it a try.

It’s a hit in my house, great acting by its entire cast – not just the leads, gorgeous scenery, humour and wit, lovely cinematography, and, last but not least, beautiful writing.

The third episode hit home for me. Clive Russell played an artist with pneumonia and Dr Lydia Fonseca astutely recognised symptoms of dementia. The acting was spot on, as it has been all series, showing vulnerability, compassion, and a multitude of emotions. Phyllis Logan is a gem in a part that draws you right into her dilemma. And these actors are playing supporting roles, the acting and characterisation is superb.

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© Lisa Shambrook

And that brings me to the writing. I’ve name checked three actors in this post, and I could list them all, but the actors are nothing without good writing. I’ve seen brilliant actors let down by poor storylines, lousy hooks, and lazy scripts. So, the writer is vital. Again, the entire cast and production team is important as it’s an ensemble in reality, but without the writer there is nothing. I’d love to see interviews with writers on TV, but often the selling point for a series are the main actors.

Dan Sefton is the writer and creator for The Good Karma Hospital, and he deserves recognition.  His storylines and characters are delightful, painful, gritty, realistic, vulnerable, and engaging. It’s the emotion beneath the protagonists that move the show along. The moment when Maggie (Phyllis Logan) bends at the height of her joy amongst the paint powder and dancing at the Holi celebrations, and whispers “I don’t want to die,” cuts you to the quick. She delivers the performance but Dan Sefton gave her the words and script to make it work – and it works! When writing and acting come together and pour out of the screen and into your heart, then you know you’re onto a winner.

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© Lisa Shambrook

I generally pick which series I want to watch according to the actors I love: Nicola Walker, Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Hugh Laurie, Amanda Redman, Peter Firth, and John Thompson are just a few that draw me to the screen, but the writers are becoming more a source to search.

Nicola Walker and Stellan Skarsgård pulled me into River last year, and I loved it. Abi Morgan’s writing, her script, was outstanding. It drew me into John River’s poignant world of awkwardness, fragility, strength, intelligence, and mental pain. I empathised with the lead, I felt what he felt, and I wept when he wept. It takes great skill to write scripts that move you.

Mike Bullen’s Cold Feet was always a favourite, but the revived 2016 series tackled depression, something Mike Bullen, himself, had experienced, and John Thompson’s portrayal of Pete slipping into despair was spine tingling. Excellent writing had me on the edge of my seat, as I’ve suffered clinical depression for most of my life, and when Pete stood on the edge of the cliff, I was right there with him. Mike Bullen’s writing was real, honest, and both he and Abi Morgan with River, were able to highlight conditions (that are often swept beneath the carpet) with truth and integrity.

Chris Lang’s Unforgotten had great stars in Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar, but it was the ensemble cast that pulled his brilliant scripts together. Chris Chibnall’s Broadchurch is another fantastic cast with great writing.

There are also wonderful dramas scripted by several writers or writing teams, like Humans, Wolf Hall, Sherlock, and many US dramas, I was a huge fan of The West Wing, and loved The Good Wife.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Good actors are, generally, what sell a TV drama, but good writing is what keeps us there. Take the time to recognise the writers behind the screenplays – it’s much harder than it looks!

I know most of these series are British, and only some have been shown internationally,
but what show really inspires you, which writers are the ones that make you tick?

What’s been one of your favourite shows?

A Winter’s Romance and Human 76 – Christmas Book Blast

This Christmas season I’m promoting two books
(other than my own Hope Within novels) which are great books to gift.
And as a bonus I have stories in both of them!
Romance and Post-Apocalyptic Adventure…

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Many people love receiving books for Christmas, myself included, and choosing the best book can be tough. However, I’m covering many bases with these two!

If you, or the person you need the perfect gift for, love romance, I have a beautiful book to cosy up with this winter: A Winter’s Romance from BHC Press, and if you prefer adventure, I can heartily recommend the brilliant post-apocalyptic thriller: Human 76 put together by myself and Michael Wombat.

Both are available in paperback for the discerning reader who likes to hold a physical book in their hands, and you can download them onto your device or Kindle for the more progressive type! All buy links will be posted below. A big plus is that you will help a charity when you purchase either of these books. Spread the love!

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A Winter’s Romance – When winter and romance mix, the elements are anything but predictable…

This book gives you 19 beautiful stories from amazing authors. Tales that will enchant you, and stir you and some that will terrify you. You’ll get dragons, music, and thrillers, history, and laughs. You’ll shiver and tingle and giggle and smile. You’ll get a whole variety of short stories and the one thing I can promise you is that you won’t regret reading them!

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A Winter’s Romance features authors: J.S.Bailey, LaDonna Cole, Drea Damara, Sara Daniell, Natalie Gibson, Bibi Hamblin, C.R.Hiatt, Kaite Jennings, S.R.Karfelt, D.M.Kilgore, Alice Lakewood, Elise Manion, Emmie Mears, Melissa Hladik Meyer, Tom Mohan, Patricia Paris, Lisa Shambrook, Hannah Steenbock and A.D.Trosper.

My own tale Between Ice and Fire is a captivating chance meeting on an icy winter’s morning – and you’ll want to know what sends shivers down Laine’s spine…

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You can find A Winter’s Romance in a gorgeous Paperback , Hardback from 9th December 2016 or Kindle on Amazon and on B&N, and Kobo and iBooks. $1.00 from the sale of each book will be donated to Forgotten Harvest (A member of Feeding America).

Human 76, Human 76 An unprecended post-apocalyptic journey, fragments of a fractured world, Lisa Shambrook, Michael Wombat,

Human 76 – An unprecedented set of stories set in the fragments of a fractured world…

You can read about how this collaboration came to be in two of my blog posts: Human 76 – Ghabrie is on her way… and Human 76 Release as this is a project very close to my heart having been inspired by a photograph of my own daughter on our family post-apocalyptic photoshoot!

What you get is 15 stories from 14 authors written without knowing how they would intertwine. Ghabrie loses her little sister in a raid and sets out to find her. On her journey she discovers eclectic communities, enemies and allies. Ghabrie and her search is the theme that threads through the book, but what you get is a gorgeous vignette of many lives, some struggling and some prospering, in the Post-Blast world. What leads them to Ghabrie? How do they meet her? Does she affect them? How do their stories impact hers? You’ll have to read them to find out.

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Human 76 features authors: Lisa Shambrook, Michael Wombat, Alex Brightsmith, Denise Callaway, KJ Collard, Alison DeLuca, Michelle Fox, Rebecca Fyfe, Jeff Hollar, Nick Johns, MS Manz, Julia Rios, KR Smith and Steven Paul Watson.

My own tales Leaving the Nest and We Make the Future open and close the book and you’ll need to read it to discover how all the tales entwine in the most amazing way…

Snippet of 'Leaving the Nest' by Lisa Shambrook - Human 76

Snippet of 'We Make the Future' by Lisa Shambrook - Human 76

Human 76 is available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon and in Paperback and Download on Lulu. All proceeds from this book go to Water is Life (a global charity that provides clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in desperate need worldwide.)

Seriously, you cannot go wrong with either of these book,
so, order a paperback and slip it into a loved one’s Christmas gifts,
let them discover a great read in their Santa Stocking,
or buy it and give yourself a well-deserved treat!

NaNoWriMo and How to Make it Through

November has been National Novel Writing Month for me for a few years now.

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Back in 2011, I was a writing community newbie and heard the word NaNo getting thrown around and I had no idea what it was. Then I began seeing that several of my friends had won NaNoWriMo, and I thought how amazing they were at winning something that was so widely talked about. It must be big! Now, those friends who win or take part in NaNo are still amazing, even though I know what it is and anyone who completes it – wins it!

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It’s not an easy thing, bear in mind.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month on many writers’ calendars and to win it you must write 50,000 words in the month of November. 50K – that’s 1,667 words per day throughout the entire month. In 2012, when I first signed up it felt like a huge mountain, and I had no idea if I was fit enough to climb it!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I’d already written several manuscripts and one published book and would be rereleasing my first novel, Beneath the Rainbow, a year later, so I knew it was possible, but I had never ever written a book in one month… Could I do it?

I had a sequel in my head for Rainbow and I spent October planning Beneath the Old Oak. I took advice from other writers: cancel all your plans for November, plan easy meals, keep your family informed (their support is vital), stay positive, and keep writing.

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© Lisa Shambrook

NaNo is not about writing a book, or at least not a full, polished, finished book. NaNo is about writing your first draft, and we all know first drafts are all about getting words on the page, letting the story flow from your fingers, and allowing your imagination complete freedom.

The months after November will be for rewrites, editing, deleting, pulling your hair out, worrying about plotlines that don’t work, honing the words, adding, altering, and fixing… November is for getting words into a draft.

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My secret weapon – Hot Chocolate – © Lisa Shambrook

So, how do you do it?

Simply, by writing.

Some days you won’t feel like it, but write if you can.

Don’t worry if you fall behind, you can catch up on a good day.

Don’t worry if you don’t complete 50,000 words, any words, any words at all are positive and moving forward.

See it as a personal goal, don’t compare. My first year was tough, I didn’t think I’d do it, especially as I watched friends zooming through, but I made it, just.

Treat yourself, chocolate works.

Have a great support network. Your family needs to know what you are doing, it will pull you away at times as you let your muse inspire and flow. If dinner doesn’t arrive on time, or the bins haven’t got put out, it’s not the end of the world…order takeaway, beg someone else to do the rubbish, or catch it next week. Writing Community friends are also magic. Their words, commitment and progress can help fuel and enthuse you.

Take time out… go out, leave the house, take a walk (November is full of autumn goodness and crunchy leaves!), watch a movie, read a book. Sometimes your muse will overwhelm you with words, and sometimes you will struggle to find her!

But, the best advice, just write.

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Take a break from writing – © Lisa Shambrook

In 2013 I wrote Beneath the Distant Star during NaNo then took a break for a couple of years. This year, 2016, I was raring to go with a project I’d held up for years, and this time my words exploded out of my fingers, completing my 50,000 words in just 19 days, and I’m still writing…this is a longer book than my others and I’m loving writing.

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Get family support, and cats! – © Lisa Shambrook

I believe my success this year is down to the fact that I originally wrote this book way back in the early 2000’s and then left it alone. I know the story inside out, but I had to throw out the old manuscript and completely rewrite from scratch. An old framework, but a brand new concept and one that excited me immensely to write!

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NaNo win – © Lisa Shambrook

The discipline of NaNo inspires me and works so well for me. I’m a writer who gets distracted – a lot. So, keeping a timetable, turning off apps, ignoring the internet, and just writing is something that works and I hope this year I can continue the habit over the following months. I have two more books planned in this series, and have already spent months world-building, restructuring plotlines, characters, and backgrounds, and I can’t wait to write.

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Keep Writing! – © Lisa Shambrook

If you’re still writing, keep it up and let your muse stay close…

Keep those words flowing!

Have you taken part in NaNoWriMo, how did you do?

Would you love to have a go?

What are your tips for getting through a month of intense writing?