Category Archives: Writing

Hope – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Hope

She hadn’t expected to be lonely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Up to 750 words, inspired by the image posted.

Read and Review – How to Save an Author

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

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

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Raven says “Review…” © Lisa Shambrook

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

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Books I’ve written and contributed to © Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Amaranth Alchemy Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes Lisa Shambrook

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes © Lisa Shambrook

Television Writers who Inspire and Enchant us

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

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

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

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

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

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© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

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

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© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

What’s been one of your favourite shows?

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.

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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?