Tag Archives: Beneath the Old Oak

How to Live with Panic Attacks

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

How to live with Panic Attacks - The Last Krystallos

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded and disappeared.

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

“Mum…” Meg gently tugged her elbow.

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

“Mum, why don’t you sit down?”

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

Meg hoped he would be quick.

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

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

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

“So?” asked her mother.

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

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

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

“The right size?”

“Maybe…”

“Try walking in them.”

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

Mum sighed. “Okay.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But you need shoes!”

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

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

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

“It doesn’t matter,” insisted Meg.

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

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

Green Castle Woods Old Oak Nov 2016 - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

I don’t think I ever went back.

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

Excerpt from Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

What works for you?

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

Facebook status describing a panic attack © Lisa Shambrook

Facebook status describing a panic attack © Lisa Shambrook

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

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

What works best for you?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Beneath the Old Oak – A tale of Courage and Growth

Beneath the Old Oak is a story that brings forth a young girl’s courage
and helps her grow through tragedy like a tiny acorn turns into a majestic oak.

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

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

Beneath the Old Oak is released through BHC Press on 16th October and is a novel that will completely captivate you.

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

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

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

“I was awake until about 1am reading this one. I could have put it down anytime, just didn’t want to.
This story leans heavily to the subject of depression. There are many of those on the kindle, few quite as believable, even less as credible. The family with a single child are wonderfully developed as they are deeply troubled.  A father who goes to work and his involvement limited in their troubled life, a mother slowly slipping away from all of them, and a young girl with too much weight on her shoulders left to clean up the mess.
…the oak tree becomes symbolic of the escape from harsh reality for both mother and child when there are so many issues that should be confronted, so many secrets that should be out in the open.
This is the kind of book I recommend people read regardless of what kind of genre you prefer. It’s one for everybody. Just read it.” —
Mr D. on Amazon

Beneath the Old Oak is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UK, Amazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, and other online outlets.

Beneath the Old Oak by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old Oak is the second book in the Surviving Hope novels, following Beneath the Rainbow already available, and once you’ve been charmed by Beneath the Old Oak you’ll be excited to read Beneath the Distant Star which releases on 11th December – and my publisher has offered a number of ARC copies of Beneath the Distant Star through LibraryThing. In exchange for an honest review you can read a prepublication copy of Beneath the Distant Star. Pop over, scroll down and request your copy now.

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Beneath the Rainbow – A tale of Grief and Hope

Beneath the Rainbow is a story that will weave through your emotions
and draw you in with its colour and magic.

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Freya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death.
Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

Beneath the Rainbow is released through BHC Press on 14th August and is a novel that will completely enchant you.

“I highly recommend reading this touching and moving story of acceptance and unending love.” —LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

“…wonderful interplay between afterlife themes and how memory and loss affect the living. It is about moving on and moving forward for the living and the dead, and let’s be clear about this, there is soooo much tragedy in this one, but what emerges from it is something beautiful. I would say that if you are a fan of Mitch Albom then this is absolutely something you will love.”  —Mr Dead on Amazon

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

“Once in a while a book totally stirs you and pulls you right in, this is it! “Beneath the Rainbow” captivates, enthrals and invites you on a magical journey of time as it moves beyond this life into the next.
It is true genius how the author interweaves messages of hope and inspiration into the lives of the characters. Thomas teaches us how to fulfil our dreams and Freya teaches us how to hold on and when to let go. I recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with any kind of loss or anyone who just wants to enjoy a captivating read.”
Mrs A. on Amazon

Beneath the Rainbow is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:
Amazon UK, Amazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, and other online outlets.

Library Thing Early Reviewers

Also, once you’re entranced by Beneath the Rainbow you’ll be excited to read Beneath the Old Oak which releases on 16th October followed by Beneath the Distant Star on 11th December – and my publisher has offered a number of ARC copies of Beneath the Old Oak through LibraryThing. In exchange for an honest review you can read a prepublication copy of Beneath the Old Oak. Pop over and request your copy now.

AD_Beneath_Rainbow_Shambrook_RELEASE

Surviving Hope – A New Chapter

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

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

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

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

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealBeneath the Rainbow

It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.

Freya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death. Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.

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

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

 

 

Beneath the Old Oak Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover reveal

Beneath the Old Oak

Turn dreams of escape into hope.

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

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

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

 

 

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

Discover what you already have.

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

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

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

 

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

Surviving Hope novels and A Symphony of Dragons by Lisa Shambrook

The Surviving Hope Novels:

Three girls, three lives, three stories composed with the melody of hope.

Freya’s death sends ripples through many lives as Meg loses her best friend, and Jasmine, her sister. Lost dreams need to be found, hidden family secrets need to unearthed, and grief must be embraced before ghosts can be laid to rest.

These beautifully composed tales of coming of age, mental health, and the struggles of finding yourself, begin with grief and culminate with hope. As grief is faced, hope becomes the only force to cling to and build upon. Freya, Meg and Jasmine need to survive with hope.

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

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

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

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

Ten Things I Discovered Beneath…

Do you ever look beneath?

Ten Things I Discovered Beneath - The Last Krystallos

I love being beneath – the rainbows, the old oak trees, and the stars,
and what else have I found beneath?

1 beneath-verandah-lisa-the-last-krystallos

I was five and the verandah was cracking, not long and it would be dangerous… © Lisa Shambrook

I grew up in a house with a veranda out the back. When I was young, Dad tore it down and rebuilt the back steps and I discovered the space beneath the veranda! A dark, dusty, and dirty ‘cave’ which I loved to play in, I doubt today’s health and safety would allow it, but I discovered my imagination down there.

beneath-night-stars-the-last-krystallos

The night sky has always fascinated me © Lisa Shambrook

I always knew I was a Daddy’s girl, and standing out beneath the stars while he taught me constellations, confirmed it.

underwater-rain-the-last-krystallos

I love the calm beneath the water © Lisa Shambrook

Under water there is calm – a calm which I lack in my every-day life (do any of us have calm in our every-day life?) and swimming relaxes me. I once swam a whole length beneath the water without taking a breath – it was beautiful. Maybe I should be a mermaid…

beneath-rainbow-the-last-krystallos

Nothing more beautiful than the colours of the rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Rainbows are all about perspective. Have you ever tried to stand beneath one? Rainbows teach me both magic and science – and that you can never reach the end of one!

beneath-waterfall-swgd-eira-the-last-krystallos

The crashing cascade is a true wonder © Lisa Shambrook

There are many waterfalls in Wales, but at Henrydd Falls and Sgwd Eira you can walk a slippery ledge to get behind the veil of water, but it’s worth it. Standing beneath a waterfall is an exhilarating experience and I found the inner delight of a child and my love of water!

clutter-the-last-krystallos

Arty clutter © Lisa Shambrook

I can’t even go into detail about how many things, every-day items, I’ve lost and found beneath other things – that’s the cluttered home of a writer.

beneath-dark-cave-the-last-krystallos

Lost in the velveteen darkness © Lisa Shambrook

I love the dark. Have you ever gone beneath ground into an old castle ruin’s dungeon or down a mine? Dolacothi gold mine isn’t far away and we visited when my children were small. We wore miner’s hats with lights on the front and big heavy batteries round our waists, and to demonstrate the darkness the miners worked in we were all instructed to turn out our lamps. As we stood in the pitch blackness, small fingers clutched my hand tight and a small, quivering voice rang out in the dark. “Mummy, my eyes don’t work anymore.”  I discovered the innocence and trust of my three-year-old standing in the dark, his hand clutching mine.

beneath-oak-tree-the-last-krystallos

Beneath the Old Oak © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath trees I’ve discovered how to make daisy chains, how to kick up piles of autumn leaves and I’ve found love.

anxiety-depression-the-last-krystallos

Anxiety and depression © Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the suffocating blanket of depression and anxiety, I discovered support, love, hope and reasons to carry on…

The-Hope-Within-Books-the-last-krystallos

The Hope Within Books © Lisa Shambrook

I was a shy and very introverted child, and beneath the façade of quiet and reserved I uncovered an observant and imaginative mind – capable of writing and conveying all the stories queued up in my head – hence, I became a writer!

What have you discovered beneath?

Lisa Shambrook The Hope Within Novels Twitter Ad

The Hope Within Novels by Lisa Shambrook

Find out what Freya discovered Beneath the Rainbow,
what Meg found Beneath the Old Oak,
and what Jasmine searched for Beneath the Distant Star… 

Coping with Self-Harm: How to Fight the Urges and Win

I want to talk about self-harm today,
because I’ve been self-harm clean for six month now,
almost to the day, but I still recall the last time I cut.

Coping with self harm, how to fight the self-harm urges and win, the last krystallos,

My brain was mush, my stomach swirled and churned, and I could barely breathe with the weight on my chest. My body shook, shivered, and sweat. A mixture of sadness and anger and nausea overcame me and, as rage developed, I took to the knife. It wasn’t an actual knife – my weapon of choice was a pin, a sharp, but innocuous pin, meant to hold material together, but used for destruction instead of creation. It scratched and scratched at my skin until beads of crimson sprang through and it continued as scarlet dripped from my arm. Tears slipped down my face and choked in my throat and I couldn’t even see or feel what I was doing.

the-slow-regard-of-silent-thing-self-harm-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook excerpt from The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

That scar sits on my arm, an unwanted, but necessary, reminder, just like the others that adorn my skin. I’m not trying to romanticise cutting, but those who do it need to know that they’re not alone, that there are people out there who understand the swathe of emotions and compulsions that attack them – and that they are conquerable.

Yes, I mean that, self-harm is conquerable and you can win. I’ve written before about ways to comprehend, fight and overcome self-harm. If you need to understand or find help please read: Understanding Self-Harm: the Truths and Myths and How to Help.

Self Harm is conquerable, beating self harm, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Self-harm, though, is like any other addiction, or learned behaviour, meaning that to defeat it you will need to continuously fight it. Again, I outlined many ways to help in my previous post, but I want to touch on what helps me most.

Talisman, totem and stim – A talisman is generally a jewel, or a stone, a charm or an item that means something to you. A totem is regarded as the same, a charm or a ritual object (think DiCaprio’s totem in Inception). A stim is a little different; it’s a behaviour – flapping hands, head-banging, repeating noises, words, movements, or smoothing, rubbing or spinning an item. The BBC have a great article on this: Stimming – What autistic people do to feel calmer. (Neurotypicals, or NT’s like me, also use them)

talisman, totem and stim - the last krystallos, self harm,

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve seen many self-harmers use the talisman/stim approach and it can work. Touching a pendant, stroking a ring, clutching a pebble – all stim behaviours with a totem of choice.

I attended a Stress Management course on the NHS, several years ago, when counselling and the such were not available to me, and still aren’t. It gave me many ways to deal with stress and anxiety, but it also tried to encourage those with totems and stims to give them up. They talked about keeping a pebble in your pocket and holding onto it when you felt anxious, something physical and ‘there’. It can help you find strength and courage, I can testify to that, but they tried to inspire those of us that did to train ourselves out of it. Maybe in the long run, it would be better not to have to rely on anything but the strength of your mind, but in the meantime if something works, stick to it!

talisman, totem and stim - acorn cups and hazelnuts - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I have a couple of totems and stims. I keep acorn cups or hazelnut shells in my pocketseverywhere – you won’t find a coat or a bag without one in it. These I use for anxiety and prevention of panic and self-harm. My family find it affectionately weird, but love me for it. I’m a squirrel, claiming acorn caps and random nut shells and if I stop on a walk, it’s because I found a new one.

I have other stims, almost unnoticeably nodding my head (since age 12), picking at my lips, and pulling off scabs and habitually making un-self-harm injuries bleed again, and I used to bite my nails – many will relate to that one! These all precede or accompany anxiety and if I recognise them early, I can use my totem to calm me and prevent self-injury or panic.

The best way I ward off those urges to harm is to polish an acorn cup or hazelnut shell between my fingers. I do it subtly, quietly and imperceptibly hopefully not to bring attention to myself. People have sometimes seen the acorn cup sitting atop my finger but are often too polite to say anything!

In Beneath the Old Oak, my second book, Meg deals with her anxiety using an acorn cup:

‘Meg shifted and reached into her jacket pocket. She retrieved an acorn cup, dipping her thumb into it. Unconsciously, she rubbed it, her thumb smoothing the inside of the cup. A habit she’d had for so long the little wooden talisman was as smooth as silk inside, and even its knobbly exterior was somewhat polished. She ran the cup across her lips, to and fro, and allowed her thoughts to wander.’

Meg’s use is one of habit, an unconscious routine to deal with the anxiety she feels. Sometimes routine, habit and coping strategies bring success, peace and calm. When I am overwhelmed in either the urges I described at the top of this post or with anxiety that feels like it’s crushing me, or panic that’s threatening to push me over the edge, sometimes my acorn cup or my broken-in-half hazelnut shell can calm me enough to prevent more serious behaviour. Some people with these stims feel foolish – don’t. If it saves you it’s worth it.

talisman, totem and stim - acorn cups and hazelnuts - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’m an empath – I’ll post about that another day – but suffice to say I feel everything. I feel pain sensitively and exquisitely, and sometimes that’s enough to tip me over the edge. This world is full of personal pain, and sometimes I wish I could dull my sense of discernment. Many of us will need to fine tune our senses and learn to cope with the pain the world throws at us. Coping methods are vital to our survival. In my previous article I point out coping strategies including: rubber bands, taking time out, breathing through, ride it out, distraction, know your triggers, remove yourself, be with people, and finding creative ways to release your emotion and stress. Talismans, totems, and stims can be part of this process and help you to overcome the urges when they hit.

But most importantly, know that you’re not alone, that there are people out there who understand and people who have taken time to learn and have compassion. These people will support and help you.  Find what you can to help you deal with self-injury, but maybe the most valuable thing will be talking to someone who understands, or who’s been there, someone who can help you understand and love yourself.

If you can, be that person.

How do you prevent self-destructive urges, or how do you cope with being overwhelmed?

Everyone’s experience is valuable and you may help someone
who needs to hear what you’ve been through.

If you need help, please see your GP, or at least check out some of the
great sites online that can help: NHS ChoicesThe SiteNSPCCHelp Guide

Beneath the Old Oak AD with SynopsisSelf-harm is part of my book ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ and an unedited NaNoWriMo snippet can be read here. To read more of Meg and her mother’s struggles ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is available on Amazon and Etsy.

“Turn those dreams of escape into hope…”
Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control and she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak, but a devastating storm will change her life forever.

Beneath the Rainbow, Oak and Stars…find Hope

Stand beneath the old oak’s boughs,
staring up at a late evening rainbow as its colours arc across the sky
and early stars begin to shimmer…
This is how the rainbows, oak and stars entwine.

The Hope Within Novels BLOG post

I’m so happy that all three Hope Within novels are now out and available. I thought it was time to show how they interweave and why the major themes are so important to me.

Beneath the Rainbow is an enchanting story of tragedy and the hope that rises from it. It introduces the theme of hope, the running melody through all three books.

Beneath the Rainbow AD with public reviews“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”
Freya won’t let anything stand in her way. Not even death.
A heart-breaking event leaves Freya’s family devastated, but Freya has left clues to her secrets and her family need to uncover them before it’s too late.
As she watches from beyond, hope and stories of love prevail.  Her united family help, however, as final yearned for wishes remain unfulfilled, time begins to run out.
Freya is certain she’s the only one who can help as precious life hangs in the balance.

When loss hits a family, grief is the strongest emotion and as hearts break human nature struggles to find something to cling to. Hope is the emotion we clutch and pull into our souls to help rescue us from the despair and pain.

Freya’s family needs hope and Freya has it in abundance. She is the only one who can help when life reaches crisis point.

The subtheme of Beneath the Rainbow is dreams…as quoted by the tag line “It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.” Sometimes we need dreams to give us hope and sometimes they keep us alive!

Beneath the Old Oak is a beautifully woven tale that follows Freya’s story with her best friend, Meg.  Meg has grown up with loss in her life from the young age when she lost her best friend, Freya. She’s desperate to know where she fits in and the subtheme of her story is courage to face adversity.

Beneath the Old Oak AD with public reviews“Turn those dreams of escape into hope…”
Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too?
Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her mother’s erratic behaviour she’s terrified she’ll inherit her sins.
Seeking refuge and escape she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. Life seems as transient as leaves upon the tree and as the seasons change the timeworn oak shares its treasured memories with her.
Meg wants to run away, but a devastating storm will change her life forever.

Meg has no idea how her life will play out when it spirals out of control and she has to face mental illness and a tragic past within her family. All she wants to do is escape, but her mother beats her to it.

She needs to change her dreams of escape (there we are again: dreams, linking with Rainbow) and turn them into hope. Meg’s challenge is not to lose hope when all seems lost.

Beneath the Distant Star is a turbulent story which takes us right back to Freya’s family. Her sister, Jasmine, was only a toddler when she lost Freya and cannot remember her at all. She fights her sister’s memory determined to become her own person and not Freya’s ghost.

Beneath the Distant Star AD with public reviews“Discover what you already have.”
Jasmine feels like the ghost of the sister she can no longer remember.
Her existence reminds her mother she has something her sister never will—life—and their fragile relationship shatters.
Jasmine craves love and acceptance but refuses to be her sister, Freya, and fights to become her own person. Life becomes a battleground as she disregards the rules and resolves to live her life to the fullest.
Jasmine’s reckless abandon threatens to destroy the very thing she needs most. 

Like Meg, Jasmine wants to fit in, but her battles alienate her from those who love her, and she loses hope of ever being the daughter her parents want. Jasmine craves acceptance and love and needs her mother to come to terms with her grief. Bringing us the subtheme of gratitude for what you already have. We sometimes disregard, or just miss, the beauty of what we have for what we’ve lost.

It brings the novels full circle fourteen years after Freya’s death as hope becomes the one force they can all cling to and build upon. Freya, Meg and Jasmine all need to find Hope Within.

The Hope Within Twitter AD JPEG

So, if you’re looking for books that will inspire and lift your spirit and steal your heart the Hope Within series will do just that.

Rainbow Stars Times New Yorker

Each theme means a great deal to me and has touched me personally. Though I haven’t lost anyone in my life, we have all felt grief at some point, it universally unites us as humankind. Dreams are what inspire me…the reasons I keep moving and working to achieve. Courage is something we all fight for and it grows with us, and gratitude is a constant, something that keeps us grounded.

Hope embodies all of these and inspires us to keep reaching for those distant stars…

Add these books to your reading list and feel inspired!

Buy here: Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak and Beneath the Distant Star.

Beneath the Old Oak eBook Sale Amazon Countdown Deal…

Beneath the Old Oak eBook on Amazon Countdown Sale this week…

12177763_743730839064071_586822404_nGrab it at a great price while you can!

BeneathOldOak_Cover_Amazon-(1)-Low-Res-245kbBeneath the Old Oak

“Turn those dreams of escape into hope…”

Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control and she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak, but a devastating storm will change her life forever.

Find it on Amazon UK for 99p and US for $1.52 for a week…but remember the nature of a Countdown Sale is that the price starts low and rises back to its original price by the end of the week…so buy it now for the best discount!

Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me – How to Write with Emotion

Make me feel your story, make me sense it and experience it.
Take me into your world, and let me live it with your protagonist.

how to write with emotion, don't show tell, show don't tell, the last krystallos, I’m an emotive writer, and my pieces concentrate much on the senses and the old adage: show, not tell. Not every writer swears by this approach, but my writing works more in this field than with explanatory description.

Emotions rule our world and fuel our stories, without emotion our stories become a boring and grim lists of actions. Stories begin with a dilemma and continue with the reactions to that impasse. All our reactions are emotional, we’re human beings, not robots, and even if you’re writing about robots, your story will need emotional content if it is to survive!

Showing emotion is vital to fire up your writing.

life and characters, charles dickens, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

Life and Characters © Lisa Shambrook

Don’t tell me your protagonist is angry, show me their fury, show me the whites of their eyes, that vein that throbs in their temple, the clenching of fists, and the heat flushing through their body… Don’t tell me your character is sad, show me them picking at their food, their trembling chin, glistening eyes, show me how their voice breaks as they utter words, and how their hopelessness demonstrates itself by listless expressions and hands hanging at their sides… Don’t just say they’re happy, let me see their mouth curl in delight, their laughter lines, how they dance as they walk, a lightness of being, their confidence and relaxed shoulders…

Writers can use speech to demonstrate emotions, but nonverbal cues are even more important. We are told that body language conveys more information than words ever can. Statistics say that: words (what is said) account for 7% of the overall message we hear, tone of voice (how it is said) accounts for 38% and body language accounts for 55%…so 93% of all communication is nonverbal.

Let’s look at an example, and because May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and I missed it due to chaotic family obligations, let’s look at anxiety:

In this chapter from ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ Meg’s mum is getting impatient, irritated and her anxiety manifests. First, a basic excerpt:

“Excuse me?” said Meg’s mum. “Could we please try these in a size four?”
The sales-boy nodded. As he disappeared Mum glared at the whining child as his mother took the football boots from him. Mum glanced at her watch and sighed.
Meg moved to her mother as the boy and his mum left. Mum ignored her daughter’s grin. “He’s going to be a real brat one day. Ah, here are yours.”
The sales-boy returned with one trainer. “I’m sorry,” he said, “only got these in a three and then a seven, sold out.”
“That’s a vast difference in sizes, no others in stock? This is a shoe shop isn’t it?” said Mum.

This paragraph works in that we can see Meg’s mum is trying to get trainers for her daughter and we can see she’s getting irritated, particularly by another customer and her son, but we can’t really feel the emotions surging within her. Let’s try the paragraph again with some small additions:

“Excuse me?” Meg’s mum waved the black trainer at the sales-boy over the child’s head. “Could we please try these in a four?”
He nodded, adding the trainer to his teetering pile of boxes. As he disappeared Mum glared at the whining child as his mother tried to prise the football boot from his grasp. Mum glanced at her watch and pulled an old receipt out of her pocket. She stared in the direction of the stockroom and began tearing the receipt into thin strips.
Meg sidled up to her mother as the boy’s mum finally wrested the boot from him, returned it to the shelf and dragged him away, his complaints still echoing. Mum ignored her daughter’s grin. “He’s going to be a real brat one day. Ah, here are yours.”
Meg noted the single trainer in the sales-boy’s hand. “I’m sorry,” he said, “only got these in a three and then a seven, sold out.”
“That’s a vast difference in sizes, no others in stock? This is a shoe shop isn’t it?” The receipt in Mum’s hand turned into confetti.

We immediately have more information about Mum’s impatience, as she waves the shoe over the other customer’s head. We see the sales-boy is busy, with teetering boxes. We also see the strain between the other customer and her son in two additional sentences. Meg notices only one trainer in the sales-boy’s hand, which adds to the tension. Finally we make an addition that shows the anxiety building inside Meg’s mother, and this is in an unconscious action displayed by her. Think about things you do when you’re anxious and include them in your writing.

Meg’s mum pulls an old receipt, a piece of paper, from her pocket. It’s irrelevant except for the action which will show you her state of mind. She begins to tear it into strips, and the final sentence shows you just how much her anxiety is rising, by the fact that she’s ripped the receipt up into tiny pieces, like confetti.

Meg’s mum’s anxiety grows as the chapter proceeds.

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

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

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

See how the actions clue you up on Meg’s mother’s growing anxiety, irritation and irrational behaviour.

emotion thesaurus, angela ackerman and becca puglisi,

The Emotion Thesaurus – invaluable!

We’re often told to write what we know, and I’m lucky, or unlucky – your call, as I know what anxiety feels like. I’m able to write from experience and convey the very emotions I’ve undergone in my own life in my writing. But what happens if we’ve never experienced the things our characters do? After all, the average murder mystery wasn’t written by a killer! One of the most comprehensive resources I have is The Emotion Thesaurus, it’s invaluable! Written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, you won’t find a better guide to character expression out there*.

“As writers, we must take our innate skills of observation and transfer them to the page. Readers have high expectations. They don’t want to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves. To make this happen, we must ensure that our characters express their emotions in ways that are both recognisable and compelling to read.”
(The Emotion Thesaurus Introduction)

So, fire up your writing, infuse your stories and take me on an adventure…
don’t just tell me, take me with you!

the emotion thesaurus, angela ackerman and becca puglisi,

From The Emotion Thesaurus

Note I have no arrangements or sponsorship through or with The Emotion Thesaurus or its authors, I just believe it’s a darn good book!

Beneath_the_Old_Oak_front_cover_finalTo read more of Meg and her mum’s battles, ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.

‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’ Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.

Mother’s Day Sale – Amaranth Alchemy and Beneath…

We have a generous 40% off everything in the lead up to Mother’s Day, we’ve had our UK Mothering Sunday, now it’s time for the rest of you to treat your mums.

mother's day, gift, discount, etsy, code, 40%, unique gifts, book craft, book page, writer's gifts,
Use Etsy Code: MOTHERSDAY15 and find something special!

As we’re a UK company, this offer can help you find a beautifully unique gift and offset the higher cost of international shipping!

dragon, dragon necklace, dictionary necklace, Amaranth Alchemy, gifts,

My own Dragon dictionary necklace.

I still wear the very first necklace we made, a prototype, one of our Scrabble style dictionary necklaces, perfect for any writer or for anyone who loves words. This one’s not for sale, but message us via our Etsy shop and see if we have the perfect word for you, or for you Mother, or your loved one. We have some very happy commission customers.

See what we can do for you!

amaranth alchemy, gifts, book craft gifts, book page art,  unique gifts, mother's day,

I am also offering my two novels at sale prices for Mother’s Day. Both these books cover the deep and complicated relationships between mothers and daughters, and would be an ideal addition to your mother’s, or your own, bookshelf…

Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, Lisa Shambrook, books, mother daughter relationship, grief, enchanting, sale,

Beneath the Rainbow, Lisa Shambrook, grief, heartbreak, rainbow, bluebells, enchanting, uplifting,‘Freya won’t let death stand in her way. When she dies Freya knows she needs to move on, but is caught within her mother’s grief and the discovery of terminally ill Old Thomas. Beneath her Rainbow…Freya needs to reach her mother, wait for Old Thomas and be ready to move on.’

Praise for Beneath the Rainbow:

“Every parent or indeed anyone who remembers the magic of their own childhood will identify with this book from the very first page. What starts off as a personal tragedy quickly blossoms into an enchanting story of joy, happy memories, and hope.
On a literary note, the book employs a stream of consciousness style that bears a well-deserved comparison with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.
A cracking good read that even the most cynical of us are likely to be left with perhaps a tear of joy, and a hope that maybe, just maybe, there could be an element of truth in its vivid description of Freya’s journey and what lies beyond…” ~ Paul (read more)

Beneath_the_old_oak_lisa_shambrook_signed_etsy‘Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.’

Praise for Beneath the Old Oak:

“A lightning bolt of a story that burns from the inside out.
Maneuvering through early teen years is difficult at best. Add a mother with mental illness, a family history riddled with mystery, and an ancient oak eager to share its secrets, and you have a beautifully poignant tale.
Beneath the Old Oak delves deeply into the helplessness of a family torn apart by depression, leaving hope scattered like fallen leaves.” ~ LaDonna Cole RN, BS, CAR Therapist and Author of Heartwork Village, Grief Recovery Curriculum (read more)

beneath the rainbow, beneath the old oak, lisa shambrook, books, grief, hope, depression, The Kindle eBooks are on sale from 26th April to 10th May on Amazon.

‘Beneath the Rainbow’ is just $1.50 (£0.99) 
‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is only $3.00 (£1.99)

Both books are also available in paperback at Amaranth Alchemy on Etsy offering 40% off  – thus giving you a substantial discount off signed books!

Note: Mothering Sunday is on Sunday 10th May in the US and much of the rest of the world.

Give your mother the gift of an enchanting read…