Category Archives: My Books

How to Live with Panic Attacks

I’ve suffered panic attacks since I was very young
and it’s taken society a long time to understand them.
How do you deal with panic and acute anxiety?

How to live with Panic Attacks - The Last Krystallos

I wrote a status the other day, on FB, which described a burgeoning panic attack . Sometimes someone’s description can be an ideal opportunity to learn about panic and how it affects our lives.

Panic attacks are violent, and often out of character, reactions to stress and anxiety, sometimes they’re triggered and sometimes they appear out of the blue and for no reason at all. It’s a fear response that our bodies exaggerate when it’s unnecessary.

The physical symptoms can be so bad people can believe they’re having a heart attack. Your heart races, your breathing becomes shallow, you feel faint, shaky, sweaty, fearful, anxious, dizzy, light-headed, sick and nauseous. You can get cramps, abdominal pain, chest pain, and you can become totally dissociative or disconnected. Things around you become unreal.

Your flight, fight, or freeze response kicks in and – boom – you’re in the middle of a panic attack. They can last anywhere from five minutes to up to an hour. The residue from the attack can last all day, or all week, and it can trigger further attacks. You might only have one every now and then or they can be regular.

Learning to live with them or with someone who suffers from them can be difficult, but as always with mental health issues – education, understanding, and compassion are crucial. Once you have discovered the best way to deal with them life can return to something similar to normal.

Meg turned the tables to comfort her mother, something she was becoming far too familiar with. - Beneath the Old Oak - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

In Beneath the Old Oak I cover anxiety, depression, and panic. Meg suffers chronic anxiety and at only fourteen she has to deal with the erratic behaviour of her mother – which includes panic attacks and disturbing moods.  

In this excerpt Meg is reluctantly out shoe shopping with her mother and a brewing panic attack (you’ll notice cues for her rising panic like shredding the receipt in her fingers as she waits, how hot she feels, her impatience, and tears):

““Excuse me?” Meg’s mum waved the black trainer at the sales-boy over the child’s head. “Could we please try these in a four?”

He nodded, adding the trainer to his teetering pile of boxes. As he disappeared Mum glared at the whining child as his mother tried to prise the football boot from his grasp. Mum glanced at her watch and pulled an old receipt out of her pocket. She stared in the direction of the stockroom and began tearing the receipt into thin strips.

Meg sidled up to her mother as the boy’s mum finally wrested the boot from him, returned it to the shelf and dragged him away, his complaints still echoing. Mum ignored her daughter’s grin. “He’s going to be a real brat one day. Ah, here are yours.”

Meg noted the single trainer in the sale-boy’s hand. “I’m sorry,” he said, “only got these in a three and then a seven, sold out.”

“That’s a vast difference in sizes, no others in stock? This is a shoe shop isn’t it?” The receipt in Mum’s hand turned into confetti.

“It’s okay Mum. I like these too…” Meg grabbed two random trainers off the wall. “Can I try these instead? Size four.”

He nodded and disappeared.

“It’s hot in here.” Mum unbuttoned her coat.

“Mum…” Meg gently tugged her elbow.

“What?” Mum sounded annoyed then realised two lads were trying to get past. She stepped back and knocked into a tall pile of shoe-boxes. Meg just managed to grab the top one as it toppled and stopped the rest from slipping. “And there’s no space!”

“Mum, why don’t you sit down?”

“That’s for people trying on shoes. How long is he going to be? I told you it would be busy.”

Meg hoped he would be quick.

He returned with two boxes. “These are a five, haven’t got a four, but these are fours.”

Meg took the boxes. “I’ll try them, thanks.”

Another customer grabbed the sales-boy as Meg tried the trainers.

“So?” asked her mother.

“Too big, they’re slipping.” Meg handed her the trainers.

“Stupid boxes…” Mum groaned as she tried to fit the bulky shoes into the tight box.

“Here, like this.” Meg replaced them and slipped her feet into the other pair.

“The right size?”

“Maybe…”

“Try walking in them.”

“I am.” Meg walked up and down the narrow path through mountains of boxes and footwear. Meg frowned, deciding whether to choose a pair she didn’t like just to get Mum out of the shop. “No, they’re pinching my little toes.” She was the one who’d be stuck wearing them.

Mum sighed. “Okay.”

“Let’s leave it, come back another day?” suggested Meg.

“No, you need trainers, we’re getting trainers.”

Meg’s sigh matched her mother’s as she pulled off the shoes. She left her mum to pack them away and moved, in her socked feet, back to the display. Not a moment later she heard a frustrated grunt and a trainer flew past her ear. It rebounded on the wall and knocked three shoes to the ground. Meg ducked and twirled round. Her mother stood, red-faced and furious.

“Damn shoe boxes!” she cried. “Nothing fits in them!”

Shocked, Meg picked up the offending shoe, moved back to her mum and put her hand on her arm. Her mother flipped her hand away. “Just leave them and I’ll do it. It’s fine!” Meg knelt and put the shoes in the box. She glanced up at Mum. Fire flashed and irritation simmered and she was oblivious to the stares from other customers.

“And it’s too hot! We come in wearing coats, because it’s winter, why do they make it so hot?” Mum trembled, her fists clenching and unclenching at her side.

Meg barely zipped up her own boots before ushering her mother out of the store.

“But you need shoes!”

“Not this much!” Meg shook her head. “Dad can drop me down later.”

She took her mum’s arm and led her to the car.

“I’ve let you down! I’m useless. I promised I’d never let you down…” wailed Mum.

“It doesn’t matter,” insisted Meg.

“It does! I promised I’d never let you down, because my mum always let me down!” Within moments Mum’s aggressive stance switched to the frustration of a child, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Meg, on the other hand, turned the tables to comfort her mother, something she was becoming far too familiar with.”

Panic attacks can often be misconstrued for aggression, shyness, anxiety, arrogance, and much more. Meg learns to deal with her mother’s panic as her behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. It’s difficult to live with panic and with someone else who suffers from a panic disorder.

Green Castle Woods Old Oak Nov 2016 - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I know I’ve often felt guilty for having a panic disorder as it’s not something you want your children to have to deal with. The above scenario at the shoe shop is one my children can relate to. I can easily tell you that shopping for shoes is one of my least favourite activities I ever had to do with my children. Shoes are expensive, they wear out fast, feet grow too fast, and children are both indecisive and picky. My youngest, in particular, would um and ah, and be unable to choose a suitable shoe. It’s a stressful enough activity for a parent with social inhibitions let alone with three children in tow.

We arrived at Clarks, the final shoe shop in town, as a last resort, due to their expensive shoes and how busy they always were. The ‘take a ticket’ queue system in a stuffy, upstairs shop was challenging enough, as were the price tickets. Finally, after waiting for what seemed like forever we were trying on shoes. I had an on sale shoe in mind, my child did not… and I felt my body prickle and electricity charged the air. I knew what was happening and my priority was to make a sale and get out of the shop as soon as possible.

The shoe we wanted was not the exact shoe size for which the assistant had measured my child, half a size bigger, but cheap and on sale. When I said we’d buy them anyway she gave me one of those patronising looks that stoke the fires of hell in those it’s aimed at. Panic surged, I shook, I sweated, my vision blurred, and I knew tears were stinging. At the cash desk she primly told me that unless I bought insoles too then if I got home and decided to return the wrong size shoes they’d be unable to take them back.

I had no intention of either buying insoles or taking them back. But that statement to someone in the throes of a panic attack was too much. I burst into tears. Not just one or two, but floods – and noisy too. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t move. I knew the whole shop was staring at me. I knew my children were scared and probably embarrassed, but nothing would stop. I threw money at the till and ran with the shoes, my children hurrying after me in shock.

I don’t think I ever went back.

Meg kept her head down - everywhere - Beneath the Old Oak - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

Symptoms of panic attacks are sometimes difficult to hide. My family all know if one is brewing. I get agitated, lost, I shake, and I attack myself – biting my nails or pulling at my skin, scratching, or digging fingernails in deep. When you’ve experienced them you recognise them. I know them in my daughters too.

There are ways to stave off a panic attack, but you have to learn what works for you, and you have to be in a situation to do what you need to. I have to remove myself physically and fast. I also use Calm Harm a phone app with a breathing exercise on it that helps to bring my breathing back down and in time. I carry a stim to hold and ground myself with – an acorn cup. You can meditate, or use Mindfulness. I can be held close, but only by family, if anyone else tries that they’ll be physically attacked. I can be talked down, again usually only by family.

I also take medication. Propranolol, a beta blocker, works for me. It slows down my heart rate and biologically removes the panic from my system.

What works for you?

My Facebook status described a panic attack as it rose and it helped people to understand what happens when an attack hits. I took a tablet and this one faded away.

Facebook status describing a panic attack © Lisa Shambrook

Facebook status describing a panic attack © Lisa Shambrook

If you suffer, know that there are many of us who deal with this on a daily basis,
you are not alone.

Do you live with someone who suffers from a Panic Disorder,
how do you and they cope?

What works best for you?

These pages from the Mental Health charity Mind are very insightful if you need help with understanding and coping with Panic Attacks. Please go and visit your GP if you need help. Counselling and medication are available.

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Beneath_the_Old_Oak_L_Shambrook_WEBMeg’s mother is having a breakdown, and Meg can’t cope. Seeking to escape bullies and overwhelming anxiety, she discovers an old oak tree whose revelations begin to change her life.

Beneath the Old Oak is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will completely move you.

“A brave book that tackles serious issues for a younger audience in a mature and sensitive way.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Old Oak is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UKAmazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and NobleWaterstonesGoogle PlayKoboiTunes, and other online outlets.

 

Narberth and Parlour Press Book Fairs

Find your new book and meet the authors – What could be better?

Book Fairs Narberth and Parlour Press

Over the next two Saturdays I’ll be at two different Book Fairs, and not only could you come and see me, but you’ll find a plethora of authors covering every genre you can think of, probably… We’re a lovely bunch and you’ll find some stellar books.

Narberth Book Fair - 22nd September - Queens Hall

Saturday 22nd September will find me at Narberth Book Fair at Queen’s Hall, Narberth. This fair started off in Tenby, founded by Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore, and has found a permanent home in Narberth, a beautiful and friendly Pembrokeshire village. Narberth is rich in history and has a lovely array of shops to find those perfect gifts, so make a day of it.

I’ve brought my books to Narberth Book Fair before and enjoy spending time with my fellow authors. So come along and see us. It’s an ideal time to find a new book, begin your Christmas shopping, or just chat and find out about what we write.

Parlour Press Book Fayre - 29th Sept - Porth Hotel, Llandysul

Saturday 29th September, the following week, and I’ll be at Parlour Press Book Fayre, a brand new fayre at the Porth Hotel in Llandysul. Cheryl Beer set up Parlour Press seventeen years ago and used her seeds of creativity to write her own healing books. The Porth Hotel is overlooking the  River Teifi so you’ll enjoy the view as you peruse our books.

I’ll be sharing a table with Thérésa Hedges-Webb, a friend of mine who’s a screenwriter, playwright, and author. We hope you’ll pop by and take a look at our books. Between us we’ll cover Young Adult, Fantasy, Post-apocalypse, Sci-fi, Vampires and much more!

Narberth and Llandeilo Book Fairs 2017-18

I will have an amazing special offer going on my original paperback versions of The Surviving Hope series then called The Hope Within Novels. You will be able to buy all three novels for just £10 that’s a discount of £9.97 on the RRP. These original covers are no longer available since the books are being rereleased with my new publisher, so it’s an ideal time to buy the whole set as originals, or simply buy the ones you’re missing to make a whole series.

L_Shambrook_The_Hope_Within_Novels

You’ll find no shortage of great books no matter what genre you like.
There’ll be something for everyone.

So, come and see us at these book fairs, and come and talk to me about dragons!
See you there!

Symphony Sale July 2018

A Symphony of Dragons – Sale

Amazon has A Symphony of Dragons at only £1.22 right now…
You need to be quick –  they put your book on sale and don’t tell you –
the paperback was at the same price, but sold out already.

A Symphony of Dragons - by Lisa Shambrook - 7 short stories of dragons

If you’re interested in seven tales of dragons… featuring the enchanted worlds of fantasy, contemporary, romance, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic composed with the gossamer threads of dragon fire… you should go and pick up your eBook copy now, before they put the price back up!

A Symphony of Dragons - by Lisa Shambrook - 7 short stories of dragons

Check out this post for an overview of each story – Spring’s Symphony of Dragons.

The sale is currently on Amazon.co.uk – keep an eye on your own local Amazon for further deals…

The Surviving Hope Novels by Lisa Shambrook - Coming Soon 2018

Surviving Hope – A New Chapter

Surviving Hope is the new series name for my first three novels:
Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star.

The Surviving Hope Novels coming soon, new cover ad Lisa Shambrook BHC Press

They have undergone some significant changes and have been unavailable for purchase for a while. This is all about to change!

All three books will now be published by BHC Press through their H20 Young Adult imprint, and their covers are now much more aligned to A Symphony of Dragons and future books.

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealBeneath the Rainbow

It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.

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.

Discover how Freya’s hope heals grief in this heartbreaking tale of triumph.

Beneath the Rainbow will be available for preorder soon and will be on sale on 14th August 2018

 

 

Beneath the Old Oak Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover reveal

Beneath the Old Oak

Turn dreams of escape into hope.

Meg’s mother is having a breakdown, and Meg can’t cope. Seeking to escape bullies and overwhelming anxiety, she discovers an old oak tree whose revelations begin to change her life.

Uncover the meaning of hope in Meg’s heartfelt tale of courage and growth.

Beneath the Old Oak will also be on preorder and on sale from 16th October 2018

 

 

Beneath the Distant Star Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealBeneath the Distant Star

Discover what you already have.

Jasmine knows her very existence reminds her mother of something her sister will never have—life. Craving love and acceptance, Jasmine struggles to become her own person, and her fragile relationship with her mother shatters.

Jasmine needs to survive the darkest of nights in this bittersweet tale of hope.

Beneath the Distant Star preorder will be available just before it’s on sale on 11th December 2018.

 

I was asked to offer my own cover paintings after painting my dragon for A Symphony of Dragons. Not an easy task – and one I definitely didn’t take lightly. But I love the final covers and how they all work together.

Surviving Hope novels and A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

The Surviving Hope Novels:

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 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.

Check out all publishing details at BHC Press and my author page.

My website will be updated with purchasing links as the novels are published.

If anyone wants to complete their collection of original covers I have a limited number of original paperbacks with the old covers. They are currently still available in my Etsy store Amaranth Alchemy at a reduced price, but once these are sold they will no longer be available.

These will also continue to be available at the Narberth Book Fair on Saturday 22nd September 2018 too, until sold out.

World Book Day 2018 – A Symphony of Words…

Leave the winter weather at your door, put your feet up,
make a coffee, get yourself comfortable, and grab a great book…
World Book Day 2018 – What are you reading?

Put up your feet, get comfortable, and grab a good Book. Advert for World Book Day 2018 - The Last Krystallos

If you adore dragons and an eclectic choice of stories my latest release: A Symphony of Dragons contains seven stories that are linked through the theme of dragons.

Soar on dragon wings within a collection of fantasy, contemporary, romance, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic tales composed with the gossamer threads of dragon fire.

open book A Symphony of Dragons, labradorite gem stone, crystals, and dragons. A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

You’ll find yourself lost amid a lyrical quartet of seasons as you discover the dragons that bring you Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Read a short steampunk tale of magic and love potions… My sweet, icy romance (also found in A Winter’s Romance and too good to leave out of my own book!). A beautiful conclusion to my Surviving Hope novels, find out what happened to Freya, Meg, and Jasmine. Witness the passion of dragons as they twist and soar through a glittered sky. My longest story (also found in Cutthroat and Curses) will entrance you with steampunk pirates raiding to save their lives, and the last post-apocalyptic tale will introduce you to The Seren Stone Chronicles and a whole new future…and you will find dragons in every tale.

An excerpt of Autumn Flame from A Symphony of Seasons in A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

You can buy A Symphony of Dragons, featuring my own cover art, in eBook or paperback at most online stores. Find buy links on my website. You can also buy a signed paperback (at a discount price) in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.

A lyrical collection of 7 stories featuring enchanting worlds of fantasy, contemporary fiction, romance, steampunk, and more. Let the song of Dragons lead you in A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

So, on World Book Day, what are you reading? 

And…whatever you are reading, please leave a book review on Goodreads,
or your blog, or Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever you bought the book.
Post a cover photo, a selfie of you reading it, or a favourite paragraph on Instagram
Tell everyone about it.
Authors will love you forever and continue writing amazing stories
for you to read and lose yourself in!

Snow Feathers…

I adore watching cotton-wool snowflakes drop from the sky,
coating the land in white and trees in icing sugar frosting.

Snow Feathers title for The Last Krystallos blog post

It’s been snowing, just a bit…

Where I live in West Wales it doesn’t snow as much as other parts of Wales, but when it does I love it.

I came across this post on Twitter and thought it was beautiful! I love the Welsh language, I sadly, don’t speak much of it, but I love its lyrical prose and beauty.

Snow Feathers… such a gorgeous way to describe snowfall…

Frost swirls like feathers and a small white feather - the last krystallos blogpost

© Lisa Shambrook

It matched beautifully with a scene in my book Beneath the Rainbow:

(Freya has passed away – not a spoiler it happens in the first sentence of the novel – and her little sister Jasmine, and her best friend Meg, and Meg’s friend Steph, are visiting Freya’s neighbours Daisy and Donald. Donald, playing a joke on the girls, throws a bunch of white feathers out into the yard and they are excitedly trying to catch them…)

‘Daisy laughed as she stood in the doorway watching her husband and three little girls chasing feathers that whirled and danced around the yard. “You’ll never catch them!” she chuckled.

“Got one!” shouted Steph and punched her hand in the air to wave her white trophy. Daisy nodded and Steph presented it to her then raced off after another.

The wind played havoc, lifting the feathers and dropping them, and spinning them and spiralling them around the girls’ legs, happy with every squeal as a feather evaded the hand that grabbed at it. Hair flew about their faces and whipped up a little vortex in the centre of the patio. The delighted players converged and a rugby scrum formed as they created a barrier to keep the wind out.

Little hands snatched and they began to gather up the rogue feathers.

They’d collected most of them when the wind turned bitter and moments later the remaining white feathers were joined by huge, fat snowflakes.

The girls’ screamed with glee and the feathers were forgotten as they lifted their red faces up toward the sky.

Donald cradled an armful of feathers and took them inside then he stood by the door with his wife. “Little Freya should be among them now,” he said with a wry smile.

She nodded, both unaware of the unseen figure twirling alongside Jasmine, Meg and Steph.

Freya danced and frolicked in the snowfall, and dressed in white, decorated with a million tiny, silver snowflakes, and fur-lined, white boots, she was a sight they could not behold.

She moved as gracefully and as invisible as the wind, but she was there, dancing her heart out, face tilted trying to absorb the flakes that fell around her.

“I love snow!” shouted Steph.

“And me!” added Jasmine.

The three girls grabbed hands and began to dance in a circle. The snow began to lay and a circle of footprints emerged.

“Oh, would you look at them!” Olivia and Rachel appeared at the wall, summoned by the raucous noise, and gazed over into the yard.

“Mummy!” called Jasmine, “Look at me!”

Rachel nodded and grinned at the sight before her.

“Mummy,” Jasmine shouted again, “get Feya, it snowing!”

Rachel’s smile did not falter, but Olivia squeezed her shoulder.

Daisy and Donald shared a glance and sent a sympathetic smile across the wall.

“Mummy!” Jasmine jumped, delighted in the footprints she left, and she jumped again making her way towards the wall. “Mummy, look…feetpint.”

Olivia lifted her hands and gave a quick clap. “C’mon girls, you’re messing up the beautiful snow in the yard, come over this side and leave some fresh ‘feetprints’ over here!”

Jasmine rushed to say goodbye to her neighbours then jumped all the way to her own back door, with Steph and Meg following her little footprints.

They continued to enjoy the snow until their noses were red and cold and their fingers likewise, and then Olivia called them in to enjoy mugs of hot chocolate and biscuits.

Outside, Freya danced alone unaware of the cold, or the slush and squashed snowdrops at her feet.’

tiny snowflake beginning to melt

© Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about snow?

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealBeneath the Rainbow

“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”

Freya won’t let anything stand in her way. Not even death. Freya’s family are left to fulfil her dreams, but as time runs out final yearned for wishes remain lost. Only Freya can help as precious life hangs in the balance.

Dragons, Stars, and Works in Progress

Look at the stars look how they shine for you and everything you do…
this is my stargazing year.

Dragons, Stars, and Works in Progress - The Last Krystallos

This post is perhaps more for me than anyone else, but it means I have something in writing which makes a difference.

Goals that are not written down are just wishes – Fitzhugh Dodson - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My plans for this year encompass change and small steps, but steps that will take me to the stars – to reach them and write about them.

I have a few secret projects involving art and writing and marketing, and the continuation of The Seren Stone Chronicles. So, to fit my mental health I’m taking small steps, one thing at a time.

small steps - dragons, stars, wip - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

A Symphony of Dragons is doing very well – if you’ve read it I could do with more reviewsreviews help us reach much larger audiences – and my marketing is concentrating on this beautiful book of short stories, though my marketing will expand again later in the year.

A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Last year I completed The Seren Stone, and it’s almost at its beta reading stage. I have a couple of changes to add, then it’ll go out to my readers, before arriving back and going through more changes (see, I said this is a year of change!). While The Seren Stone is out in the hands of its betas I’ll be working on paintings and hopefully have some news for you in the Spring.

I can’t wait to begin working on the first draft of the second book in the series. It’s all mapped out and ready to go, and as the daffodils and tulips bloom so will the book. The third book of the trilogy will hopefully get its first draft late in the year, and once I am sure all three work together then plans to get The Seren Stone out there will move forward. I’m planning on releasing it Spring 2019, with its sequels in 2020 and 2021.

I also plan to write more flash fiction, writing exercises that promote inspiration, skill, and fun. My life feels very tight and restricted right now, so, letting loose with my words will be cathartic.

Look at the stars look how they shine for you and everything you do – Coldplay – The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Life hasn’t been easy and though I’m currently off medication because the side effects were so severe, my anxiety and panic attacks are still spiking. I’m trying to work through this year by removing the main triggers for anxiety, anything to stop the urge to run, and counter the waves of panic that build within my chest. Part of that is learning to put myself first for a change. That may mean I’m negligent in other areas, but sometimes you need to go right back to the basics and learning to accept yourself is part of that.

I’m planning to fly with my dragons this year and reach the stars.

Christmas Cake and Competitions – Win A Symphony of Dragons

This is the time of the year we start to think of cakes and Christmas decorations.
Today I’ll be making our cake – and considering my decorating plans!

Christmas Cake and Competition 2017 - The Last Krystallos

I’ve always used the same recipe, tried and tested, but when my daughter became vegan over a year ago, I tried to make it with an egg supplement powder, so she wouldn’t miss out. The cake was still delicious, but it was very crumbly. This year, I’m going to try using chickpea water as an egg replacement. 3 tablespoons of drained chickpea water is the equivalent to one egg, lightly whip to a foamy texture for baking. I’ll let you know how well that works.

It was a great pleasure to have my Melting Snowmen Christmas Cake included in DotComGiftShop’s blog post How to Decorate your Christmas Cake. My Melting Snowmen was one of my favourite cakes to decorate…here are the other Christmas cakes I’ve already decorated over the last few years.

Which is your favourite?

Favourite Christmas Cakes - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, as it’s Christmas, and gift giving is fun, and we’ve done this before… here’s a little competition.

Next week I’ll be decorating this year’s cake. The design is planned, drawn up, and sealed away. We have this competition in my family. I keep the cake under wraps and my husband and children guess how I’ve decorated it, then they discover who’s right with the unveiling.

Symphony_of_Dragons_Lisa_ShambrookI will send a paperback copy of A Symphony of Dragons to the reader who correctly guesses the design that will appear on top of my Christmas Cake this year!

(In the event of more than one correct guess, I will put names in the proverbial hat and draw one winner.)

Leave your guesses below in comments, or on my Facebook Author Page.
No guesses on my personal FB share will be counted as we’re not allowed to promote competitions on personal pages.
Be sure to comment your guess here or on my FB Author Page. I’ll add a final comment here to add FB guesses, so it remains transparent.

I don’t give clues, much to my children’s chagrin, but I haven’t repeated a design yet, so maybe that is a clue!

What will be on my Christmas Cake this year?

How are you decorating your cake?

What was your favourite Christmas Cake ever? 

Vegan Christmas Cake Recipe - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Narberth Book Fair 2017 – Come and Find Your New Book

Saturday 23rd September 2017 come to the Narberth Book Fair
and find inspiration, authors, and books – lots and lots of books!

Book Fair Special Offer Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Narberth Book Fair 2017I will be part of this lovely Book Fair, which began some years ago as part of the Tenby Arts Festival. The fair has outgrown its home and we can now be found at the Queen’s Hall, 44 High Street, Narberth, SA67 7AS, and you can also visit the Narberth Food Festival on the same weekend, what could be better? Great books and delicious food all in one place!

You will find many authors and their books from 10am to 4pm, and attend a variety of talks and book readings all FREEand with only 13 weeks ‘til Christmas this is your ideal time to start shopping for that bookworm in your life, or just treat yourself!

I will be signing and selling copies of the Hope Within Novels, and my new release this year A Symphony of Dragons, a collection of dragon themed short tales.

The_Hope_Within_novels_Lisa-Shambrook-Low-Res-205kb Book covers x3

The Hope Within novels © Lisa Shambrook

And to make it even better I have a fantastic SPECIAL OFFER for buyers at the Book FairWhen you buy A Symphony of Dragons you will also get a FREE copy of Beneath the Rainbow.

Book Fair Special Offer Today Symphony and Rainbow adI will also be selling items from Amaranth Alchemy perfect book related Stocking Fillers…

All my books cost £5 each at Book Fairs which is a significant discount on Paperback prices online or in stores…and I’d love to see you there!

Check out my Narberth Book Fair Author Page and read an interview with me…

A Symphony of Dragons April 2017

Asher – BHC Press – A Symphony of Dragons

“A Symphony of Dragons is a book of short stories…each one about a dragon, or dragons. The lyrical, descriptive writing conveys both beauty and fear… The author will surprise you with her imagination and intricate detail.”
A Symphony of Dragons review on Amazon ~ Penny

“I was completely caught off guard by this breathtaking story. It is sweet, touching, uplifting, and frankly just beautiful.”
Beneath the Rainbow review
on Amazon ~ Sophie Moss, award-winning author of ‘The Selkie Spell’

“Highly recommend this beautifully woven story! I found myself immersed in this book, wanting to turn the page to find out what happened next!”
Beneath the Old Oak review
on Amazon ~ Bunnygirl

​“…I have compared it to Mitch Albom because this feels like the story he didn’t get around to writing yet. A really wonderful tale. Don’t miss out on this one.”
Beneath the Distant Star review
on Amazon ~ Mr Dead

Book Fairs coming up at which I will be attending…

Carmarthenshire Carmarthen Library Book Fair – Sat 21st October

Carmarthen Book Fair, St Peter’s Civic Hall – Sat 11th November

Llandeilo Christmas Book Fair – Sat 9th December

See you in Narberth!

Plastic – Polluting our Oceans

Do we need plastic?
That’s one of the questions I believe we should be asking ourselves,
as the ocean begins to drown in the man-made material…

Plastic - Polluting Our Oceans - The Last Krystallos

A plastic-free society is a scenario I definitely pose in my current manuscript The Seren Stone Chronicles (unedited excerpt):

‘Will’s eyebrows shot up. “There’s no plastic!”

“Legend has it that all your plastic got swallowed up by mother earth in the lunar apocalypse,” said Ianthe. “It melted in the pit of her belly.”

“Best place for it,” said Rhianna.’

In my future Wales, plastic has become a thing of the past, but how do we know how the phenomenon of this synthetic material created only 110 years ago (though natural polymers have been around for generations) and widely available from the 1940’s after the introduction of Tupperware, will ultimately affect the earth that we live on?

Plastic - Polluting Our Oceans - Earth - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I glance about me at home and plastic is rampant…It forms much of my laptop, television, plug points, plugs, wires, my car outside, pens, kitchen utensils, white goods – fridge, freezer, many appliances, and a huge amount of packaging. It even forms veneers on some of my cheaper bookshelves, plastic bags, and more, but the majority of disposable plastic in my home derives from packaging.

Plastic - Polluting Our Oceans - Plastic Bags - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

How do we replace it? It shouldn’t be that tough, after all, generations only a hundred years ago didn’t have access to the sort of durable, strong plastics we do now, and they managed! We could move back to using metal, wood, and plant-based materials, but in this society that’s not always easy. A few years ago my daughter tried to reduce her plastic usage and go plastic free using bamboo toothbrushes, trying to buy dry food in jars, even taking her own jars to fill, and her own cups to coffee shops, and using canvas bags for shopping. It was so hard, and so unaccepted that it became near impossible to achieve. Some people have and I salute them, but it makes normal life very difficult.

Plastic - Polluting Our Oceans - Glass Jars - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

We live in a society where butchers aren’t used as much as they could be, and meat is packaged in large, thick, sealed plastic boxes. The green grocer is left behind for plastic bags of pre-packed fruit and veg, and the grocer with cardboard boxes and tins and jars has been replaced with plastic bottles, containers, and bags for almost everything.

We are often pushed by governments and local councils to recycle more, fines are imposed when we don’t, and rubbish collection services are cut to force recycling. The fines and restraints should be levied upon the companies using excess packaging, in my opinion, but that’s another story.

Many people are trying their best to be environmentally friendly, after all we didn’t ask for plastic microbeads to be placed in soaps, facial washes, and toothpastes. We don’t need all the packaging that companies force upon us, and we don’t need many of the knick-knacks that are constantly thrown at us. And there are so many organisations trying to show us the way to a more enlightened and environmentally friendly approach to life.

We see how plastic is drowning the sea, how microbeads have devastated oceans and marine life, how plastic wraps have damaged creatures, and how plastic is washing up on beaches across the planet. 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year from bottle tops, to rope, bottles, plastic bags, sanitary products, disposable nappies, and more. Evo News even quoted that:  ‘The number of plastic microbeads in oceans and seas, bigger than the number of stars in our galaxy.’

However, there’s been great news from Greenpeace who reported just last week that by 30 June 2018 all personal care and cosmetic products with microbeads will be off shelves in the UK in a government ban!

Seagull Dreams by Bekah Shambrook Plastic - Polluting Our Oceans - the last krystallos

© Bekah Shambrook

We’ve all seen pictures of seabirds with legs and feet caught in plastic bags and debris, turtles deformed with plastic can rings looped about their shells, and fish, seals, dolphins, sharks, and even whales caught up in plastic nets. These are creatures we have the responsibility of caring for. We have the responsibility of caring for the whole earth.

There are several initiatives trying to help clean up our oceans, and make us aware of the pollution of plastic. Von Wong began #MermaidsHatePlastic and borrowed 10,000 plastic bottles to make an art installation that makes a valuable point. Find him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and read his story.

And 4Ocean sells bracelets made from ocean plastic to fund the removal of trash from the sea Find them on Twitter.

My question evolves into a solution when people respond with the continuing need for plastic in our lives, why can’t we use the plastic we recover from the ocean? Hopefully we are, or if we’re not then governments will soon pick up the idea, as they have with home and business recycling.

Plastic - Polluting Our Oceans - Bottles - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

But to counter, maybe we can try to use less plastic, invent things that use less plastic, and we could buy and use more environmentally friendly products to begin the move away from plastic. Plastic isn’t generally good for us. Many of us, myself included, reuse water bottles to drink from, but that plastic gradually breaks down and enters our bloodstream through constant use. It’s better to buy a metal or glass water bottle. As charges for plastic bags have come in, we are using less and reusing and taking our own, every little helps. We need to keep doing our bit, no matter how small it is.

There are alternatives if companies are willing to put the money and research in to develop products that are environmentally friendly – take these plastic bags for example…

I’ve seen plates and tableware made from palm leaves or wheat fibre pulp, bamboo toothbrushes, cotton/canvas shopping bags, water powered clocks, solar power and much more. We can all do our bit by increasing recycling, reusing products, avoiding one-use items, and we can actively reduce, reuse and recycle.

reduce reuse recycleI’ve seen many products that are created/invented using plant based materials, we just need to change our ways, alter our sensibilities, and transform our habits.

Humans don’t like change – but change is what we need to do.

We need to continue the fight to remove unnecessary plastics and packaging,
to help not only our own health, but the health of the planet on which we live.  

What are we doing to Mother Earth?

* Edited to add: 2nd August 2017 is officially #EarthOvershootDaywhich makes this post even more appropriate. Today is the day that we have used up this year’s quota of Earth’s natural resources for one year. We need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to support humanity’s demands on nature… Just something to think about…