Category Archives: Flash Fiction

For the Love of Books – What’s Your Favourite Genre?

Reading is a true pleasure, and not only do we all have books we love,
stories we adore, but we often have genres that we lean towards
when we’re searching for new books.

So, where’s your heart when it comes to the books you read?

For the Love of Books - What's Your Favourite Genre - The Last Krystallos

These days books are very much pigeon-holed into genres, which when I first began writing didn’t occur to me at all! I just wrote the story inside my head before discovering it really didn’t fit a particular genre. In the end, my first series of books, The Hope Within Novels, actually fit very well into the Young Adult field, and we all know YA can be read and loved by any age at all!

Since my first book, I did learn that to succeed it’s pretty important to know your genre, and through flash fiction and short stories, I discovered my passion is fantasy – moving into steampunk and post-apocalyptic.

I grew up with Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five adventuresexploring ruins, islands, castles, and moved into Narnia, The Hobbit, and my favourite The Dark is Rising Sequence. I was hooked. From there Philip Pullman, Tolkien, Eoin Colfer, and again, my favourite author, Garth Nix and his Old Kingdom series captivated me. I read many genres, but love writing contemporary and fantasy.

So, what do you love?

My love of fantasy arrived with dragons and after Smaug, I fell for some friendlier types in the rather wordy Eragon series by Christopher Paolini. Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea is a classic, as is anything by Tolkien, and I’ve loved current books Orison by Daniel Swensen and the beautiful Quest of the Dreamwalker from Stacy Bennett. I am also entranced by Patrick Rothfuss, and fell in love with The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Are you a romance reader? I went through some steamy romances in my twenties, my bored housewife/young mum years, but my palate grew up and I now love fantasy and contemporary romances. I have been completely enchanted by Sophie Moss and her Seal Island Trilogy, and can’t wait for her latest book in the Wind Chime series… And you’ll love ditsy Katie Button from Lizzie Koch.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Or does horror chill you? I was never a horror fan, preferring movie versions of most horror stories if any, but I did love James Herbert’s Portent, and I’ve read a few Stephen King. J. Whitworth Hazzard blew the zombie genre right out of the water with Dead Sea Games, and I adored the chilling literary tales from Max Power and Darkly Wood.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Do you love the classics? Are you a Bronte fan, or do you go weak at the knees for Mr Darcy? I’ve always loved fairy-tales, stories that chill, enthral, and fascinate bringing us dragons, fae, and much more. I love Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, then there’s The Count of Monte Cristo from Dumas, and so much more. The classics are right there, standing the test of time.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Are your tastes more eclectic? I remember raiding Dad’s bookshelves to read John Wyndham, introduced to Chocky by the BBC TV series on Children’s Television back in 1984 – and I then devoured The Midwich Cuckoos, The Chrysalids, The Kraken Wakes and more. Sci-fi is still up there with my favourites, but I tend to watch sci-fi much more than read it.

Autobiographies, Mum and Gran loved reading about people, real people, and my husband enjoys it too, not so much my cup of tea.

Contemporary, is a hit and miss thing for me these days. There are some brilliant books out there like Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep from Joanna Cannon, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, but you can easily hit some real misses.

I also enjoy Thrillers, Harlan Coben being my favourite.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Children’s books, I still read kids’ books, why not? They are what introduced me to reading and inspired me to write myself. The Silver Brumby absolutely entrances me, and I will always love it. I’ve even been known to reread Blyton’s The Castle of Adventure as an adult…

From children’s books to Young Adult…a genre that is a law unto itself. Harry Potter broke the mould with children’s books, bringing them to children and adults simultaneously. Now, you’ll see YA in the hands of all ages. John Green and Meg Rosoff inspire when they pen great stories, and so do some much lesser known authors, like Angela Lynn who had me completely in love with All the What Ifs, and Louise Gornall with an emotional journey through Under Rose Tainted Skies. Another book that made me weep was Loser from Jerry Spinelli, a book I would read again and again, and Anne Holm’s I am David. My books, Beneath the Rainbow, Old Oak, and Distant Star, also inspire through difficult journeys and true to the YA genre have been loved by all ages!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Lastly, I love short story books. I love a book I can pick up while I’m waiting, and I’m often waiting for children, dentists, Drs, and other appointments. Short tales are inspiring, eclectic, a good use of spare time, and they also introduce us to new authors, or an author’s writing style, when you fall in love with their writing, you can search out full-length novels and bury yourself among your favourite words! And, like with Human 76, you can sometimes find a completely original and exciting concept, this time a book of tales by different writers, brought together in the same world, but each telling a unique story.

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© Lisa Shambrook

So, tell me, what books do you love, where is your passion,
and what genre is your ‘go to’ when searching for a new read?   

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…

A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook - Purple Ad lower

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.

TLT Throwback – Fall

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Shivering chill, penetrates deep, piercing frozen marrow.

I am lost, and I hold fragile, autumn leaves, crushed,

bloodless, between my forsaken fingers – like my heart.

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Joining in Grace Black’s TLT Throwback – Twenty-eight, as I just couldn’t resist this autumn leaves photograph.

Prompt: Fall. 3 lines, 10 words max per line…

Visual Dare – Crumbling

She couldn’t bear the shaving brush and foam on the bathroom windowsill, and his cologne still clung to the sweater gripped between her fingers. Martha buried her anguish within his scent and memories as she clutched his jumper to her face.

Six days was too long, far too long.

She shrugged his sweater over her head and ignored the cawing birds as they flocked beyond the cliffs. Their mournful cries served only to intensify her grief and choking sobs.

Two uniformed figures walked towards her; they’d known she’d still be there, down on the beach. Their gait slowed as the salty gale assailed them and their shoulders sagged. Black boots kicked the sand as they walked and as she watched behind her trembling fingers, the oldest removed his hat. Tears trickled and she knew what they’d say.

Six days was too long, far too long, and now – too late.

(149 Words)

00. VisDare Badge
Written for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare – One week, 150 words, one black-and-white photo that could spawn a hundred different stories.

Go take a look at the stories in her comments, each a different take on the picture above!

Visual Dare – Candid

I remember childhood tinged with yellow. Fields behind my house, long grass with ox-eye daises teetering on the breeze and scratchy corn itching my back as I lay staring up at gold-edged clouds between pages.

Then there were rosy sunsets and flushed cheeks and hands clasped tight as first love blossomed.

I wished for bouquets of red roses and a white wedding dress. I wanted teal bed linen and seafoam walls, and trails of green ivy climbing the brickwork. I wanted pink wine and black coffee, and multi-coloured years, merging into the silver of growing old together.

But life’s palette will be never more than my crayon box colours as I rest in a lost, brambled corner of the field behind my childhood home. My bones are bleached by time and the sanguine pools beneath me long consumed by mother earth as my first love became last.

(147 Words) 

00. VisDare BadgeWritten for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare – One week, 150 words, one black-and-white photo that could spawn a hundred different stories.

Go take a look at the stories in her comments, each a different take on the picture above!

Love Bites 2016 – The Winners

We had some amazing tales of vengeance and passion, fourteen in all, appropriate for Valentine’s Day! It was tough but we came up with three great winners.

Love Bites Badge 2016

THE WINNERS 

Third Place: Ailsa Abraham | @ailsaabraham 

  1. Laura – Revenge for Valentines is always good and a 200-year wait made this tale even sweeter.
  2. Lisa – When you plan something, make sure you do it right, especially vengeance.
  3. Lizzie – Loved the dark humour in this fiery Valentine revenge.
  4. Ruth – Aged to perfection, like a fine wine, this tale of revenge is bold and satisfying.

Second Place: Michael Wombat | @wombat37

  1. Laura – This took me on the best dark journey. Loved it!
  2. Lisa – Poetry, ancient history, and a need to sate vengeful passion with a black twist of fate.
  3. Lizzie – A deliciously dark tale right from the poetic start. Loved it!
  4. Ruth – Filled with vivid images, poetic language, and bloody vengeance!

First Place: Eric Martell | @drmagoo  

  1. Laura – Passion, betrayal, and a dead body. All I need in a Valentine’s tale. Excellent story.
  2. Lisa – I was entranced from the title on. A tale of pure evil that teaches me never, ever, to presume. Deliciously dark and twisted.
  3. Lizzie – Ooh, I loved the grim and matter-of-fact way he dealt with his betrayer in this brilliant story!
  4. Ruth – When this apparent grieving widower goes from bitter to vindictive and embarks on a smartly planned journey of payback, the enormity of his monstrosity left me speechless!

Check out the original post at Ink After Dark for all the stories – a great read if you’re plotting revenge or just letting off steam!

Thank you all who wrote for us, especially Eric, Wombat and Ailsa!