Category Archives: Writing

What is the Love in Your Life?

Valentine’s Day always makes me think about the love in my life
So, here it is, everything that means Love to me… 

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What brings you LOVE in your life?

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Vince, Bekah, Dan, and Caitlin © Lisa Shambrook

My instant response to what brings me the most joy and love in my life is easy – my Family. My husband and children have brought me every emotion under the moon, but love overrides it all. My marriage and partnership with my husband is the most important relationship to me as my children came from this union. I’ve written about our love before and it’s blatantly obvious how much my children mean to me. Each one of them is a unique human being and I love how different each relationship is, how much fun and laughter and joy they bring to my life.
This is Love.

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Rusty, Roxy, Raven, and Misty © Lisa Shambrook

Soft fur, purrs (the cats, they can’t help it!), devotion, dependence, twinkling eyes, curling up on your lap (yes, even a sixty pound German Shepherd tries this!), adoration, kneading kitty paws, wagging tail (generally the dog!), wet noses, pricked up ears, padding paws. Rusty, Roxy, Misty and Raven.
This is Love.

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Nature, scriptures, freeagency, and crystals © Lisa Shambrook

I don’t often write about my religious views and my Faith. My faith is vast, ever evolving, and it embraces humanity with a Christ-like vision, but my Christianity intertwines with aspects of nature and Paganism and the peace of Buddhism. I think Spirituality is a vast subject and faith is very personal. My beliefs make sense to me, and no one can challenge what my heart reveals to me.
This is Love.

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Art, worldbuilding, sketches and notes, and dragons © Lisa Shambrook

I need a Creative outlet, without it I’d go quietly mad. I draw, plan, sketch, paint, sculpt, write, design, craft, photograph, and create. I create worlds with words, characters, plots, emotion, and dragons. I share my emotions in every piece I write or make.
This is Love.

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Acorn Cups, Trollbeads, Leather jacket, and Dr Martens Boots © Lisa Shambrook

Most of the things that bring me love are free, family, faith, nature, pets, imagination, but sometimes we have material items that mean something to us. If I wear something ‘til it’s worn out, then it’s been needed and loved. My leather jackets end up worn and torn, as do my beloved boots. I adore gems, I love pretty things, so my bracelet adorned with silver tokens and Murano glass beads means a great deal to me. Each trinket and bead means something, a moment, a place, people, something precious. And as I’m a squirrel, bushy-tailed and anxiously curious I have a thing for acorn cups and hazelnut shells.
This is Love.

What is the Love in your life?

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?

7 Tactics to Kickstart Your Muse

Where I drag my Muse when I need a nudge with my writing…

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With NaNoWriMo right around the corner (you can find me here as Last Krystallos)writing a book in only 30 days across November, you might benefit from a couple of ideas to help keep your muse around!

I don’t often get writer’s block, it’s more like, plot fogwhere my Muse gets a bit disoriented and lost amid swirling mists and confusion. So what do I do to combat her inattention or bewilderment?

I have several things that help inspire me and refocus my Muse:

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© Lisa Shambrook

My first go to is write some Flash Fiction. There are lots of Flash Fiction sites online and you can find a prompt, a picture, or a word, or a piece of music, and you write a short story or snippet based on the prompt. If there’s nothing online, peruse your photos or your own music and find something to kickstart your imagination. Set yourself 100 words and see what you can write, you’ll be surprised and often impressed with your short tales!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Cloud Watching. Have you ever gazed up at the sky and watched the clouds pass by? What do you see? I see whales, dolphins, dragons and all sorts of mythical creatures. Clouds can form castles, beaches, mountain vistas and sunlit scenes. Out with my daughter recently, we gazed up at what was definitely the Starship Enterprise, I only wish I hadn’t been driving and could have taken a picture! Write about what you see.

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© Lisa Shambrook

If I need inspiration I go for A Walk. It helps that I have a dog so walks are frequent anyway! It doesn’t always matter where you go; the act of walking and allowing your mind to scroll through whatever it wants often conjures up inspiration, storylines and fills plot holes!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Nature, connecting with clouds and walking, not only do you have time to think while you’re out absorbing nature, but maybe what you see will inspire your Muse? I love bluebells and our local woods were full of them during April and May. Trees have also inspired me; my second book is Beneath the Old Oak, so literally inspired by a poem about an old oak! Let the wind whispering in the trees lower your guard, let the grass tickle your feet, and let the flowers fill you with hope.

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© Lisa Shambrook

The Ocean needs its own place on this list. It’s vast, and can change in an instant, just like your Muse! Not much beats walking on the seashore to inspire me. Waves can be calm and as still as a millpond, and they can rage like a tempest. The ocean ebbs and flows and ideas do the same. Imagine a battle between pirates out on the sea, or selkies bobbing in the still water, or a contemporary romance beneath the sunset on the sand… The ocean drifts with a million stories…

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© Lisa Shambrook

Be Creative. Make something. Play with clay, draw, get out your paints, do anything that requires physical creativity. See what you can shape and how it inspires you.

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© Lisa Shambrook

My last piece of advice is to Go And Do Something Else instead. Top of the list, go for a drive – you must have experienced that plot reconstruction that came to you while you were driving, and you panicked to hold onto it until you could pull over and add it to your memo app or write it down? Go to sleep – did you not know that your mind will give you your best genius plots as you fall asleep? Note them down too, as you’ll never remember them in the morning… Start a mundane task and see how quick your Muse decides vacuuming isn’t much fun and you’d much prefer to write!

There are many more ways to redirect your Muse, what are your favourite ways?

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…

Dragons, Castles, Wales, and Works In Progress…

Now that Human 76 is out there in the wild
and you’re all getting your post-apocalyptic fix,
I need to get back into my tales and my WIP (Work In Progress).

Dragons, Castles, Wales, and WIP... The Last Krystallos.

Exciting plans involve a short story collection embracing a dragon theme and then a new series. The short stories will include a story that ties to The Hope Within Books and a new tale that will link directly to my new chronicles.

Dryslwyn Castle Cait and Lisa The Last krystallos June 2016

Caitlin and Lisa at Dryslwyn Castle with Paxton’s Tower © Bekah Shambrook

So, as a teaser this post is a visit to Dryslwyn Castle in Carmarthen which will play a part in my WIP. These books are set far, far into the future:

‘Centuries beyond post-apocalyptic, the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country…and the rumble of dragons has returned…’

I’ve spent the last year travelling across Wales, researching, and having fun! You may recall my blog post Road Trip through the raw beauty of Wales, not only did we have fun, but we mapped out the landscape that I’m going to need.

Dryslwyn Castle, Black Mountain , Tywi Valley, Lisa Shambrook,

The Black Mountain in the far distance from Dryslwyn Castle © Lisa Shambrook

Dryslwyn is a ruined medieval castle, the very strategically placed home for 13th century Rhys ap Maredudd, high above the Tywi Valley. It was a front line defence but deliberately decommissioned in the early 15th century. It was walled up, blockaded and ruined, and burnt to the ground at a later date.

Dryslwyn Castle, hills, Lisa Shambrook,

Dryslwyn Castle foundations… © Lisa Shambrook

However, it still holds strong foundations upon the hilltop peering across at Paxton’s Tower, the neo-gothic folly erected in memory of Lord Nelson in the 18th century.

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Paxton’s Tower across the Tywi Valley… © Lisa Shambrook

In my future the current Twyi Valley will be a flooded land populated by islands, including Dryslwyn castle which may be a stronghold for its owners – and I know exactly who will live there – having rebuilt a small fort of her own within the safety of the islands…

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Dryslwyn Castle and Caitlin… © Lisa Shambrook

We had a lovely visit planning and plotting and imagining post-apocalyptic futures…

It’s been quite a week for contemplating the future
and dystopia and post-apocalyptic seem appropriate!
*spoken with tongue firmly in cheek*

What are your plans for the future? 

How to Create a Strong Author Platform that Works for You

How do you create a positive and visible author platform?
How do you bring readers to you instead of having to search them out?

How to Create a Strong Author Platform that Works for You - The Last Krystallos
Having published, with or without the help of Traditional Publishing, you will need a platform. The book market is saturated and if you publish and sit back waiting for people to find you and your books, you may be waiting interminably. Even traditional publishers require a huge amount of author input and rely on you having a good social media platform to begin with. So where do you start?

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I began with Facebook. I had a personal account with strong privacy settings, but that won’t inform the world about your books beyond your friends and family. So, you’ll need a Facebook Page. There’s a lot of debate about whether Facebook’s algorithms make Pages worthwhile, but it’s still a good place to start and build up a following. It’s important to note that unless you and your followers/likers interact it’s unlikely your posts will be seen, so make an effort to interact and post regularly.

Facebook allows you to add several great functions to your Page. The Call to Action button allows you to add a link to your shop/Amazon, so people can immediately find your product. Add the Author Marketing App so you can add your books either manually or via their ISBN and have easy access to all your books from your Facebook page.   

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Then there’s Twitter. I cut my teeth on Twitter before anything else. I wanted everyone to know about my book so joined Twitter – I will be forever grateful, though, that I never crammed my twitter feed with my books above interacting. There it is again that word – interact – the most important word on social media. Even if you’re only using social media for marketing, you are building relationships first and foremost. Don’t underestimate the value of friends and relationships online.

Make sure your Twitter Bio is strong, a brief introduction to you and your audience. Add a link directly to your books or website or blog whichever is your primary source for information and sales. And Twitter is the Queen of Hashtags so use them – in your bio and in your tweets – to help people find you and your content.

Some Twitter etiquette advice:
Don’t be the person who Tweets endlessly about your books and nothing else – and don’t RT endlessly everyone else’s books. People will tire of a stream of book ads and will either turn off your RT’s or unfollow you.
Don’t use DM (Direct Messages) unless you are actually contacting someone for a reason, and not to advertise yourself. If you DM me as soon as I follow you with ‘Thanks for following you can find my books (here) and my FB page (here) and please buy my books – because I’m getting desperate…’ then I will unfollow you. Direct Messages are almost sacred and should be used sparingly, as such. By all means when you’re followed tweet the new follower with a welcome message and interact with them, but don’t use DM’s unless you are asking them something that can’t be shared publicly.
I will also unfollow those who Tweet ‘I’ve had 26 unfollowers today – I know who you are…’  Nobody cares who follows or unfollows you and if I see you using this app when I check out your feed before following, you’ll have lost me straight away.
Some people believe Twitter is all about numbers and how many followers you have. Maybe that works. However, I follow someone because I’m interested in what they might have to say not because I just might, and might is the operative word, sell you something. If I had hundreds of thousands of people to follow I’d never be able to interact and to create friendships and relationships, and for me Twitter gave me friends and a writing community which I adore.

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Google+ is important, more because its content is indexed and it helps you raise your profile and online rankings. I don’t understand a lot about SEO, but I do know that if someone shares your content on Google+ that post will rank higher and can be found within the hugeness of the web much more easily. I find Google+ difficult to work with, but persevere and benefit from it. Create your Brand Page or personal page in a similar way to Facebook and interact.

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Your Amazon Author Page is of utmost importance when you’re starting out. It shows up with your books on their sale pages on Amazon and adds dimension and interest. Think about when you search for a book on Amazon – when it comes up you read the blurb and scroll to check out the author. This is their Amazon Author Page. Go to Amazon Author Central (and there are several: .com, .co.uk and other countries) and fill it out. Link up your blog on the .com site and add your author photo and books. People can also follow you and get updates when you release a book.

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The next few social media sites are more optional, but worth signing up to and using. Of these Pinterest is the most useful and fun. Pinterest is a giant online noticeboard, you can pin pictures and return to them whenever you wish! Each picture should link to an article or blog post from whence the picture came. Many links are broken on Pinterest, but you can utilise Pinterest by adding great pictures to your own blog posts and adding a ‘Pin It’ tag. Make sure any pictures you use are yours to use and don’t fall foul of copyrights.

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Other useful sites are Flipboard, Stumbleupon, Snapchat and Tumblr. I also love Instagram. Instagram is becoming more useful for marketing as you can post your own ads and personal interest pictures for your followers. Who doesn’t like knowing more about their favourite author’s personal life and what makes them tick or what inspires them? You can share your Instagram pictures on most other social media and spread the love!

Blogs are the best way to get your writing out there and to find new readers. I began blogging on Blogspot, posting my Flash Fiction to a number of sites I followed: Five Sentence Fiction, Visual Dare, Mid Week Blues Buster to name but a few. These sites and exercises helped me to hone my writing and my skills and made me a far better writer than I was. Slowly, my own writing took over my time and my flash fiction decreased.

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I re-evaluated my blog and transferred it to WordPress, a site I find much more writer friendly. I had no idea what to post, but blogging is an important way to keep a presence on the internet and to keep my writing public. Often, we writers sit at home and churn out the words, but until a book is released no one sees us and blogging can keep you in the public eye. I decided to pick a few subjects that I loved and wanted to write about, and that fit well with the books I had or was writing. I chose to write about Nature; Mental and Emotional Health; Positivity and Dreams; and writing and reading. Mixed in would be fun posts about whatever took my fancy and flash fiction! I adore nature, the outdoors and its beauty, and nature inspires my writing a great amount, and it meant I could add my own photographs and pictures of flowers and trees! Mental health and reducing its stigma is personally important and I would be able to share my own issues and helps. Dreams and fighting for what you believe is another passion of mine, and all three of these subjects are paramount in my ‘Hope Within’ books, so I love writing and sharing about them!

It’s up to you what you blog, the most important thing is to choose what you love, what’s important to you, and not to get bogged down. You need to love what you’re writing about.

A few tips on blogging:
Love what you write.
Know what you write.
Link back to great sources.
Get and be guest bloggers.
Use your own photographs and pictures to avoid copyright issues, or find free image sites.
Be consistent, in both posting and how you post. Your blog will become part of your brand.

website-lisa-shambrook

Your website is a first stop for most of those searching for you online. They might have seen your business cards, ads, or just heard about you. They need to be able to find you.

Your website might be your blog too. Make sure it’s clean, strong, and consistent with your brand.
I choose to have a Weebly website and a WordPress blog, both link easily to each other via one click. Be sure they do, like me your blog may be named differently to your personal brand, and it needs to be linked. People may find you via your website or blog, so make sure all your social media are linked on both sites. Links to your other media are imperative. Keep them clean and easy to find.

I have several pages on my website: a home page with ads and my author picture; an about page; a book page with links to all my publications; a page of reviews – you can see what readers have thought about my books; a news page; an extras page with downloadables, gallery, fun facts about me, and a few snippets of my flash fiction – try before you buy; and a contact me page with my media kit. I then have direct links to my Blog and Etsy shop!  Make your website fun, informative and accessible.

Once you’ve decided what platforms are important to you, stick with them. You may start using Pinterest and decided it’s not for you. There are no right or wrong answers. No one will force you to interact on Twitter if you hate Twitter! Many people will tell you they sell enough books purely by blogging, or whichever social media suits them. Many will tell you they can’t sell any books despite having every social media set up they can find. You need to learn what works for you. Unfortunately to sell books, you need to market and unless you have a great deal with a publisher right behind you, that job is going to be yours.

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My last tips are:
Consistency is vital. Use the same author photo across the board on your public platforms. I have a different personal profile pic for my own Facebook, but that’s mine, not my author profile.

On the same note, use the same name. I used to call myself LastKrystallos on Twitter, and you’ll still find The Last Krystallos as my blog name, but changing all my social media to Lisa Shambrook means that I’m much more easily searchable and discoverable. Though my blog is still called The Last Krystallos, you will see that my name and author picture are very visible.

Intersperse your links to your books/blog posts/ads etc with genuine conversation and interaction especially on Twitter and Facebook. You are a person, not a repetitive bot, let people get to know you. If I like someone I’m 100% more likely to buy their writing than if they bombard me with ads and links. Interact.

I hope some of this will be useful to you and will help you create your online presence.
I hope that you’ll interact and discover friends and supporters like I have,
who will delight in both your words and in you yourself!

Let me know if you have any further platform building tips?

9 of the Best Ways to Beat Procrastination

How can you beat procrastination and defeat the thief of time?
I always want to do all of the things – and then end up doing none of them.
So, let’s fight procrastination together!

9 of the Best Ways to Beat Procrastination - The Last Krystallos

Remove distractions/avoid interruptions – Turn off social media, no really, I mean it! Turn it off, do it now, or at least after you’ve finished my post… There are apps that can do this for you, or you can unplug the internet, or you can use willpower  – what’s that, I hear you ask? You know that personal strength inside of you…yep, it does exist – or if you have a better idea or strategy let me know – I really need to know! But, yes, turn off the TV, send the kids out to play, or at least choose a time when you have peace and quiet.

Discover what makes you waste time – um, Facebook – and take steps to reduce the time you waste.

procrastination the art of wasting one's time, the last krystallos, sleeping cat procrastination meme,

© Lisa Shambrook

Treats – have a reward ready for when you’ve finished your task. This only works if you have that proverbial self-control or if you lock it away first. If I have chocolate beside me, I eat it – while I’m procrastinating. Maybe don’t choose chocolate as your reward.

twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did, bowlines, sail away, safe harbour, catch the trade winds, sails, explore, dream, discover, H Jackson Brown Jr, Mark Twain, the last krystallos, quote,

H Jackson Brown Jr quote © Lisa Shambrook

Find your best time – find out the best time of day for being productive. I tend to finally knuckle down about an hour or two before I have to go and do the school run, then I’m back to square one and get interrupted while I’m on a roll. However, I know if I get started earlier, I can achieve so much more. Some of you will be morning people, some, like me, night owls. The worst thing for a night owl is having to get up early which curtails the opportunity to work late at night, so I’ve had to alter my habits and learn how to be productive much, much earlier! Better to cultivate an achievable productive time than languish and wait for time that will never come.

lists, how to beat procrastination, the last krystallos, one note,

My blog ideas list on One Note © Lisa Shambrook

To Do Lists – argh, the dreaded To Do List. I’m a list lover; I have them everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Scraps of paper abound with bullet points and scribbles. You can write your list on paper or use an app; not only is my house strewn with scraps of paper, but my One Note app is brimming with lists too! For some people they truly work. You can list and prioritise and those that love lists also relish that moment when you can score through an item and tick it off! Some of us even write lists including things we know we’ve already completedyes, you know you do – just so we can immediately cross things off. We get a buzz from it. Just make sure you actually do something on the list that hasn’t been finished too.

Prioritise – yep, mentioned above. Get your priorities right. There are often important things that need doing first. If it’s time sensitive it makes sense to get it out of the way. If you have so much to do you’re feeling stressed then choose a small quick thing to do first. Generally if you do something that only takes 15 minutes or less, you’ll not only feel good and be able to cross something off fast, you’ll have reduced the pressure you’re putting yourself under and achieved something. Then move onto something more complicated or time consuming.  You can even break your larger projects down into smaller chunks.

I’m world building, plotting and planning my next series of books, and rather than just list: write book, I’ve narrowed it into smaller tasks: research, history, characters, names, character bios, maps, etc, which helps me have perspective and goals I can manage.

gossamer dreams and concrete goals, setting goals, choose to put your dreams into action, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

Gossamer dream and concrete goals © Lisa Shambrook

Set Goals – see my post: Making Dreams Happen and Reaching Your Goals. Set achievable goals and write them down. Will Self said on writing: “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” Write things down. That’s important.

Quoted from my article linked above: Reaching our goals is the result of a choice and a decision to recognise and to work towards making something happen in our lives.

The stages of achieving are thus:

  • Recognise your dream, the thing you desire.
  • Write it down, it’s been proven that putting something on paper makes it more concrete and more likely that you will do something about it.
  • Make a plan. Save for that holiday, outline that novel, change your diet…
  • Decide to do it and don’t give up until you reach that star.

Set goals and make plans – without plans it’s difficult to motivate yourself. Your goals should have time factors, rewards and motivation.

that moment when you have so much to do you choose not to do any of it, procrastination, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Don’t guilt yourself – sometimes you’ll while away an entire day watching cats fall over themselves on YouTube, or you’ll scroll Twitter’s never-ending feed clicking here and there, or you’ll get caught up in a conversation on Facebook or Twitter. That conversation might have been important, you might have found an article you need for research, or you might have learned something new. Down time is just as important as getting things done. 

Every day I discover more and more beautiful things It’s enough to drive one mad I have such a desire to do everything my head is bursting with it Claude Monet, quote, the last krystallos,

I have such a desire to do everything – Claude Monet © Lisa Shambrook

If you didn’t accomplish anything start again tomorrow, analyse where you went wrong and take steps to fix it. Get that self-discipline working! If you’ve lost the morning, don’t give up, start again after lunch.

Lastly, just a few tips to remember – work in a warm room, it’s more conducive to productivity. If you’re overwhelmed with a large list, do some quick things first. If you’re getting bogged down, blocked or foggy, take a walk and get out into the fresh air. Fresh air will clear your mind, aid your creative juices and perhaps inspire you. Eat well and stay hydrated, drink water it can prevent headaches and keep your mind more active.

Create habits – good ones – it’s said that it takes 21 days to make a habit, maybe a month. So work on being productive and lessening your procrastination. And remember tomorrow is always a new day!

What are your tips for beating procrastination?

How do you motivate yourself?

Let’s all try and be better today than we were yesterday!

 

 

4 #WritingTips To Make Your Writing Better

We’ve all been given writing tips that have helped us improve our writing skills.
Hopefully these will help you too.
These are the best tips I’ve been given, you may have different or better ones…
please share them in the comments, as we’re all here to learn and grow!

4 #WritingTips to make your Writing Better - The Last Krystallos

Said is not dead - it's alive and well - Four #WritingTips To Make Your Writing Better - The Last Krystallos

Said – is not dead… © Lisa Shambrook

1. Dialogue…I try not to go too fancy, I stick to said in general and ignore all those flowery replacements especially the pretentious ones. The internet is full of ‘Said is dead’ and ‘Over 200 ways to say said’, and maybe at school, whilst increasing your vocabulary, it’s great to learn new ways to say said but in a novel be sparing with your speech tags. Editors and authors know that dialogue is part of the story and speech tags are purely there to inform which character is speaking and when. Most dialogue tags should be invisible to the readers so as not to detract from the story.

If you’re character moaned, muttered, grumbled, murmured, and exclaimed all the time, your reader will soon long for a simpler flow of words. By all means sprinkle different dialogue tags throughout your work, but said, asked, answered, and replied are the preferred verbs.

Another important piece of advice I’ll always remember is how to use dialogue tags. I still see people writing: “It was so funny,” she laughed.  *Remember that you don’t usually laugh and speak at the same time. The same goes for sighed, sneezed, and spat for example. The piece of dialogue should finish and the action added in a new sentence or continuation: “It was so funny.” She laughed. (note fullstop and capital letter) or “It was so funny,” she said and laughed. (note comma and continuation adding the action in the sentence).
*edit: If you do use these tags be sure not to overuse them and make sure they work in context, it has been pointed out to me that it is quite acceptable to spit out words and laugh etc whilst talking, and, yes, I’ve certainly spat out an angry phrase before!

Four #WritingTips To Make Your Writing Better - The Last Krystallos

Dialogue from Beneath the Distant Star © Lisa Shambrook

2. Lose a good chunk of adverbs, or words ending ‘ly’. Please DO use them where they fit, and sometimes they’re the perfect word, but be sparing. For example if you’re writing about anger show the anger in the context of the story, demonstrate it to your reader through your character – for example (note the bold sentence):

“And it’s your birthday, why are you out here?”

Jasmine’s grin faded and a flushed smoulder spread across her features instead. “Well, at least someone remembered.”

“C’mon, we’ve got presents. Dad’s waiting for you downstairs. He’s waiting for us both. Aunty Rachel’s probably yelling up the stairs at us now!”

Jasmine’s face darkened further at the mention of her mother. “So, at least she’ll know what day it is now.”

I could easily have written:

“And it’s your birthday, why are you out here?”

“Well, at least someone remembered,” said Jasmine angrily.

“C’mon, we’ve got presents. Dad’s waiting for you downstairs. He’s waiting for us both. Aunty Rachel’s probably yelling up the stairs at us now!”

Jasmine’s face darkened further at the mention of her mother. “So, at least she’ll know what day it is now.”

The first example shows how the adverb just isn’t necessary and you learn much more about Jasmine’s response through the description, rather than just telling the reader she’s angry.
See my previous post: Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me for more information about writing with emotion.
(Example text taken from Beneath the Distant Star book three of my Hope Within novels)

Stephen King On Writing Quote simplify - The Last Krystallos

Stephen King On Writing Quote – © Lisa Shambrook

3. Write simply. I love simplicity in my writing. You’re telling a story, not writing purple prose – unless you are, in which case, go for it! This does depend on your style, but most readers are more engaged in a story if it flows and simple words are usually less distracting. Stephen King told us not to be ashamed of our short words, my story is smoother and sleeker if my words, though beautiful and important, carry the reader without removing you from the experience.

That said – make sure your writing does contain appropriate big words unless you’re writing for small children. It was books I read as a child and teen that gave me my extensive vocabulary. There’s a lot to be said for looking up words in the dictionary and learning new ones. And I’m a huge fan of words, simple ones and complicated ones!

Four #WritingTips To Make Your Writing Better

Read aloud to find your spelling mistakes…I’m very sure my children were singing not sinning! © Lisa Shambrook

4. Lastly, the Best #WritingTip I’ve ever been given – Read your work out loud, especially dialogue. Reading through your work is imperative, in silence or aloud, but reading out loud gives a further depth to your work. Before reading out loud you’ll be sure there are no other distractions around and your attention is on your writing. You’ll engage more closely with your manuscript and you’ll hear it. You’ll hear the flaws, the way dialogue doesn’t flow, you’ll see the spelling errors Spellcheck didn’t highlight, and you’ll notice awkward sentences and placement. You’ll also hear what does work and be able to enjoy those passages that do!

If you can’t bear reading your work to yourself, find a friend or partner to do it, or use an app, you can even enable Word’s Text Speak command. Give it a try! Reading aloud has enhanced my writing and editing process hugely!

So, these are the tips that have really helped me – what has helped you most?

What makes your writing better?

What are your best writing tips?

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!