Category Archives: Writing

Perpetual Repercussion – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Perpetual Reprcussion - Photograph - Sarolta Ban

Photograph by Sarolta Ban

Perpetual repercussion – words resonate. Seasons lost – time too late. Arctic perma – wayward lea. Dig for seed – find the key.

I’d not taken the riddle literally, so my surprise at discovering the huge protrusion in the sand is very real.

Tolkien snuffles at its base, his nose flaring and his whine rising amid a low growl, and I tentatively hold my hand to the square and my team remains silent behind me. Only Tolly’s snorts and the thwack of canvas sails flapping in the wind make a sound.

I stare at the metal post, the cold biting through my clothes, and call Tolly back. He barks at it one last time and returns to my side. Through my blurry lenses, the shaft rises at an angel out of the ground with notches protruding like the bit of a key. I rub my goggles, but only smear the dirt and scratch the surface glass even more.

My boots crunch as I move closer, the dry stone and sand giving way beneath my soles. I tug the scarf from my throat, loosening the itchy material away from my beard and chapped lips then lift my goggles. I chuckle. It isn’t a key, not a literal key, but the leaning post does offer answers.

We’d spent months traversing the desert, crossing the ocean, and reaching the island called Spitzbergen, at least we hoped that’s where we were. The world had changed; its continents and islands had altered beyond recognition in many cases. How could we ever be sure where we were?

But Tolly jigs at my side, his muscles taut with pent up excitement, and it’s contagious. I reach up and brush the dust from the broken metal sign. I smile, as I can’t read the words etched into the steel, and Nottson approaches from behind to clean and decipher the runes. Moments later his laughter rings out on the breeze. “Your riddle speaks true.” He beckons the rest of the team. “Perpetual is clear, Repercussion half lost, but the words are true. It is here. We are here.” His arms swing wide and a cheer erupts from the men and women at my rear.

We dig – unearthing the base of the signpost and nothing more. Frustration fills our hearts, our souls, and our exhausted bodies, but Tolly insists and alongside the faithful dog, we keep excavating.

It takes days, weeks, but Tolly has never let us down and finally, as the arctic sun begins to drop in the sky Tolly’s bark echoes and his claws ring out – on glass, or metal, or?

We dig, and clean, and polish, and then we step back with tears in our eyes. Mirrors, steel, and prisms, preserved beneath the sand, gleam beneath our feet. Dyveke Sanne’s ancient work glistens once more, reflecting the Svalbard polar light in tones of green, and blue, and white.

Finally, we have the key within our grasp. Tolly whirls and barks and feeds our anticipation. The world is waiting, tired and weary, and hungry, and we are just moments from the vault, just moments from saving humankind.

Perpetual Repercussion…life can start again.

0000. Divider

I was inspired by the existence of the Global Seed Vault and Dyveke Sanne‘s art Perpetual Repercussion on the roof and entrance to the facility in Svalbard, Norway. In my story the world has suffered great catastrophe and the hunt for the seed bank underway… See more stories at Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

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Nightlings – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

The battle was not yet won and nor would it be without help.

The opposing army stood silent but for a drum beating in time with Nomin’s heart. Sweat and fear from his warriors and their horses reeked and the taste of blood set his teeth on edge.

Numbers did not favour him, and the exhaustion evident in the hoarse breaths behind him made him wonder how much longer he could stall the inevitable.

Though they were almost a mile apart, separated by a stretch of verdant mossy green and a crystal clear stream, he knew the Captain’s eyes were trained upon him, and he squirmed with discomfort. Within moments the virid velvet carpet would become mire and the stream would run with ruby swirls.

Nomin straightened his back and relaxed his shoulders heavy beneath his leather armour, and stared back. The drumbeat, echoing across the glen, quickened and Nomin’s heart matched it. His breathing rose and fell with the strain of courage building and determination gilding his lungs. It was now or never, and time was not on their side.

Nomin closed his eyes, and uttered her name beneath his breath, a single syllable, yet everything, “Bren…” Her name fluttered away on the breeze, but he hoped she’d heard it. Their lives depended on it.

The horses shuffled, nerves tingling beneath their hide and anticipation flooding their veins. The drumming stopped and a shimmering wave glinted on the far side of the valley as shields rose, and in the sudden hush Nomin raised his arm. He could not retract his response and commitment was sealed in his shaking hand.

Tension increased as armoured gloves clenched reins and boots gripped flanks. The battle roar opposite had the desired effect, and Nomin swallowed hard then dropped his hand. Heels kicked and horses sprang and Nomin urged his steed forward.

Thunder flooded the glen, and lightning flashes of swords and shields glittered beneath the gloomy sky, and they raced towards death and glory.

Nomin closed his eyes as his breath tore through his throat and his knuckles grazed against his horse’s armour. How long had they before the clash, before the clang of steel took the lives of those around him, how long before death graced the green, green grass?

A new sound echoed, wailing and tearing through his brain and his eyes flew open. He almost dropped his reins as he pulled up his mount and watched his army divide and veer. “Bren!” his voice cracked with effort and passion.

Bren sat astride a steed of the night, clothed in witchery and ebony. She howled like a wolf, and from the forests came a host of Nightlings, baying like demons and screaming with banshee calls. Black, and white, and grey chargers, midnight’s ghosts, streamed from the trees with wild manes and tails, and the magic of the night.

Nomin watched with wonder sparkling in his tired eyes and love pumping through his veins. He screamed and roared encouragement, and he and his army watched as Bren stormed the soldiers that would have annihilated his. Tears welled and merged with the sweat on his grimy face.

Nightlings, the myths of the night, stampeded across the glen without leaving a hoof print or a trampled piece of grass, and barrelled into the army with a force they would never survive. Screams of men mingled with the rage of the revenant, and death did indeed come to the glen that afternoon.

When it ended, Nomin galloped forward, searching the Nightlings for their queen. The ghosts departed and finally Nomin gazed into the dark eyes of his love. Bren smiled with eyes that could not weep, and blue lips that matched the pale skin that barely covered her hollow face. Wild black hair, whipped in strands as the wind kissed her in a way that Nomin now – never could.

Their steeds stood side by side, ghost by flesh, and Nomin tore off his glove and reached to cup Bren’s face in his warm, calloused hand. Bren’s frozen fingers closed around Nomin’s in a clasp that would have to last for all his time he had left. She backed slowly away, until he nodded and whispered in a breath that only she could hear, “Til then…” and Bren’s mount was gone, and she with it.

Death and the Nightlings came and the battle was won.

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Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge is back again after a summer break and this photo truly inspired me, and I listened to Audiomachine as I wrote…epic battle music!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

 

Going Underground – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

abandoned subway station - City Hall Station, in New York

Abandoned Subway by John Paul Palescandolo & Eric Kazmirek, featured Daily Mail 2012

Talin grabbed Cae’s arm, yanking her away from the wall and down to the ground. Cae yelped, but dropped beside him cursing at the cry she’d uttered. She bristled as his arm swept across her chest in a protective gesture and he held her against the crumbling wall. Falling bricks and concrete echoed amid the crash of shattering glass, and dust clouds rushed round the corner.

They pulled bandana scarves up and over their mouths and shrank back. A billowing fog of debris and death smothered the back street, and they remained crushed against each other and the broken wall.

Moments later, Cae impatiently pushed against Talin’s restraining arm and signalled to him. Reluctantly, he released her and followed as she began to creep, toe to heel, along the wall, her dirty fingers clutching at the disintegrating brick as the ground trembled beneath their feet.

Fog and dust swirled and rotors whirred above them, the hum of drones hovered, and Talin moved behind Cae, wiping the dirt and grease from his goggles. He could hear her breath wheezing behind her neckerchief, and knew her asthma was playing up. He reached out to slow her, but she was gone.

Explosions and splintering glass still rang in his ears as tenements crashed and collapsed behind him, and as he bolted forward, the ground disappeared and he fell through the same rotten boards Cae had.

He landed in a pile of rubbish with an oomph that juddered through his body. He jumped as a hand rested on his leg, as Cae grabbed him and pulled him to his feet. He knew it was Cae as her breath still rasped and rattled, and he immediately snatched her backpack off her shoulders. Even in the gloom he knew what he was looking for and his fingers quickly located her inhaler. They slipped off the mound of rubble and waste, and collapsed onto cold concrete. Talin found Cae’s hand and pressed the inhaler into it. He heard her cough and then gulp down the medication. There was silence as she held her breath, then she took another puff.

The sound hissed in the eerie silence, and then Cae breathed softly, more measured, and Talin relaxed.

“Where are we?” she panted.

“Don’t talk,” he warned. “We have to move from here, in case we’re tracked.”

“The drones can’t get down here…” began Cae.

“Never say never.” Talin squeezed her arm.

The vague light from above disappeared with a thunderous crash as the wall they’d inched along fell, and more dust and grime mushroomed down the hole.

“Not know, anyway!” cried Cae, leaping away from the falling stone and filth. She shrugged her backpack on again and felt along her belt until she found the torch hanging at her waist. She flipped the light on and a stark white glow shone out into the dark.

A broken steel ladder barely clung to the wall, rusted and hanging free of its bolts, and they stood inside an alcove. Cae stepped forward and cried out again, “We’re in a tunnel, the old railway!”

Talin pushed past her and stumbled on the ancient iron rails. Regaining his balance, he switched on his own torch and swept it about the tunnel. “Trains haven’t run for years…” He pointed his light at the tracks. “But these rails look so clean…”

“We shouldn’t be down here…” whispered Cae, clinging suddenly to his arm.

“Rather here, than up there,” said Talin, patting her hand. “And there’s no way back up there.”

Together they moved forward, following the tracks, stepping from sleeper to sleeper, their pace increasing as they hurried over the wooden stepping stones. Torch light bobbed ahead of them and they flinched as the sound of devastation continued to rain above.

The sound of war lessened the further they ran, until up ahead a soft golden glow shone like a candle in a window. The tunnel widened opening up into a vast domed underground station. Cae gripped Talin’s hand as they slowed to a walk then they stopped as two tiny red lights shone in the dark.

The red dots danced lightly across their chests, settling on their hearts. They stopped and waited.

Two women, dressed in combat trousers and torn jackets, with rifles and military boots, stood before them. “Friend or foe?” they asked in unison.

“We were escaping… I’m Talin, this is my sister, Cae.”

Broad smiles lit the women’s faces, “Talin, Cae, welcome to the Resistance.”

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Another great photo prompt from Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge over at Finding Clarity.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

The Albatross – Mid Week Flash Challenge

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

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

It wasn’t enough and I kept walking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pebbles dropped with my heavy heart, one by one.

It was enough.

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

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

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

To Vegan or Not to Vegan – Worldbuilding a Future Generation

An appropriate post for National Vegetarian Week! When I began worldbuilding for The Seren Stone Chronicles, there was much to sort out. Set roughly two thousand years into our future, the populace has learned a great deal from our mistakes.

To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

Their ancestors had to live through apocalyptic consequences of our generation’s capitalism and complete disregard for the environment. So, their outlook is very different to ours. Many things have changed, from the landscape which suffered and shifted hugely in the ensuing chaos, variations in the chemical makeup of minerals and natural elements, a large loss of population, and the rise of dragons

Dryslwyn Castle Cait and Lisa The Last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The Chronicles are set in Wales within a naturally simplistic countryside, having lost the large cities a millennia or so earlier. Though technology levels, beliefs, and lives the world over will be different, my lands are a beautiful backdrop to include the changes in landscape and scenery, and to introduce dragons. It lends to a natural community which have turned their backs on twenty-first century technology and embraced the organic and elemental ways of life. This is a society that renounced plastic and tech generations ago because of its aftermath, and makes choices with empathy and a symbiotic relationship with the earth.

The Seren Stone Chronicles -Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The question of food and sustenance crept into my worldbuilding, and I thought I’d be making the decisions, but my characters told me exactly where their values stood.

Their choices lead me to Carnage, a BBC iPlayer mockumentary on veganism. This also coincided with my daughter (who’s been vegan for over a year and vegetarian for two) showing me Cowspiracy as I needed to learn about the environmental damage caused by our current diets and animal agriculture. I wanted to know if meat-eating, vegetarianism, or veganism would be part of their future.  I like that we can be both light-hearted and informative about veganism, especially when the stereotypes are so vicious, but both these programmes and further research opened my eyes to much more than I’d expected.

Field -To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

As I wrote, my characters let me know that environmental issues are an imperative part of their lives. They are determined not to make the mistakes of ancestors and they choose to live sustainably. This doesn’t mean they have no tech – just very different devices to ours – and their food choices and health became a crucial part of my worldbuilding.

They use natural materials for building, clothing, and technology, but my biggest dilemma was with leather. However, leather is still a by-product of wild animals, and dragons, quickly reaped when animals die and is highly valued and respected.

Moors - To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Without the huge populations that we have today, mass-marketing and factory-farming are a thing of the past, and choices based on environment, welfare, and ethics are much easier to make.

Incidentally, my research brought me to a pivotal point in my own life. I won’t judge anyone on their own choices, but within a month I was a fully-fledged vegan. We often get portrayed as self-righteous and of inflicting our food choices on others to make them feel guilty. This, in general, couldn’t be any further than the truth. Our care and evangelism is about the environment and the animals about us – and you can’t blame anyone for wanting to share how to help the world, can you?

Berries - To Vegan or not to Vegan - Worldbuilding - Writing a Future Generation - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve also discovered a true love of food and the alternatives that exist out there. I thought I could never live without milk-chocolate, or cheese, or lamb, but I don’t miss any of it. My characters couldn’t imagine a life any other way, though there are definitely people who will differ and choose other diets and ways of living, just as it is in our world.

Worldbuilding is a fascinating process, especially when your characters spell out their ethics and conscience to you, and help you change your own life!

Have you ever been influenced by another world in a book,
or wished you lived in a different time?

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!)

 

Hope – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Hope

She hadn’t expected to be lonely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up to 750 words, inspired by the image posted.

Read and Review – How to Save an Author

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

read-and-review-the-last-krystallos How to Thank an Author

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

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Raven says “Review…” © Lisa Shambrook

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

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Books I’ve written and contributed to © Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where you, the reader, come in. If you buy the book, and you read it, and you love it, then the best way you can thank us for those months of hard work is to write a review. Let the world know that the book is out there, that you loved it, and why you loved it.

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

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

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

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

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Amaranth Alchemy Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes Lisa Shambrook

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes © Lisa Shambrook

Television Writers who Inspire and Enchant us

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

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

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

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

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

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© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

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

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© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

What’s been one of your favourite shows?