Tag Archives: Beneath the Rainbow

Your Ideal Heaven – Your Choice…

I’ve been musing on the idea of heaven
and wondering what I’d like in the hereafter.
What would be your ideal version of heaven?

Your Ideal Heaven - Your Choice - The Last Krystallos

In J Edward Neill’s book 101 Questions for Humanity he asks: Set aside your existing belief system. Describe the afterlife as the way you want it to be.
And this is what I’m asking. If you had no current beliefs, and an afterlife was a valid possibility, how would you choose to live your forever?

In Beneath the Rainbow Freya is still a child when she passes over and finds herself in heaven. Very quickly she’s told that her heaven can be whatever she wants it to be. She’s in a place of limbo, somewhere to come to terms with the fact of death and take a figurative breath.

In this excerpt Freya finds out what she can do:

“These flowers, this garden, they’re all yours.”

“Mine?”

“Can’t you see the flowers aren’t normal? They’re all flowering together even though they shouldn’t be.”

She hadn’t noticed, but now she did. She remembered Mum’s grief when the bluebells finished and recalled how Mum always said it was sad when one season finished, but the next always brought another swathe of beauty with its own flowers. Mum loved every season, even the crunchy carpet of leaves in the autumn and winter’s snowdrops had her enthusing all over again.

Now Freya gazed across the clusters of flowers and understood, not only were the plants out of season, but each held a meaning for her.

Primroses, tiny lemon-yellow ones pushed up through the grass as she recalled how both she and her mum preferred plants that were natural and old-fashioned. As she watched primroses surface, their tough, wrinkled leaves unfurling and thin stalks revealing buds that quickly opened, her smile deepened. She raised her hands and grinned. “Watch this!” she commanded.

She swung her hands upwards like a conductor before his orchestra and loosed her mind. Bright orange geums burst forth, intermingled with bronze irises, more irises appeared, rising up through sword-like clumps of silver leaves, their buds unfurling to reveal huge silken flowers in an array of colours. Amongst these were black tulips, pink tulips and white tulips. Daisies the colour of butter cream, paeonies seemingly made of bowls of crinkled petals, gossamer-haired pulsatillas, pink, shaggy dianthus, the palest yellow daffodils, more roses and plum-coloured poppies.

Columbine and clematis climbed up into the trees and sweet peas twisted around trunks.

Foxgloves, verbena and sky-blue delphiniums grew tall, whilst snowdrops, cyclamen and delicate violas carpeted the woodland floor.

Jake kept his trademark grin as he sidestepped a patch of fuchsias, and avoided decapitation from a whippy willow branch, could you still get decapitated if you were already dead?

And Freya hadn’t finished adding sweet-smelling philadelphus, a wine-coloured magnolia and a Christmas tree.

“Any more?” asked Jake.

She folded her arms across her chest surveying her work. “Nope, I think that’s it…for now.” She nodded with a broad, satisfied smile that matched Jake’s and appraised her heaven. She nodded again. “It’s good.”

Freya’s heaven is made up of memories of flowers that she connects with her mother and happiness. She creates meadows and gardens of flowers, and oh, how I can relate!

When the bluebells finished... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

When I’ve given my book presentation to groups of readers, I’ve often asked this question; What would your heaven be?

The answers have been many and varied:

Somewhere with my horses and cats; eternal sleep; a tropical beach with lemonade fountain, pears and chips; anywhere my pets are; music studio; somewhere with all my friends and family; a cottage from the 1600’s with a kitchen with an art studio and my family, a pool and a theatre; a bookstore with a farmer’s market and a log cabin; a field of sunflowers and poppies and a never-ending day with my family and pets and fireworks; a garden with my family and friends and dogs and lots of water; two scantily clad men in a mineral water hot tub with coffee; my family, friends and all pets past and present, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sea, hills, mountains and valleys.”

Another heaven in Beneath the Rainbow is Alice’s and she conjures castles and clouds… so, what would you choose?

Castle on a Cloud...Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook

Excerpt from Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

I like to think that I’ll have a say in my heaven. Life is tough and my own upbringing has prepared me for an afterlife, but there are so many versions amongst many who believe. Some believe it will be full of duty and continuation of spiritual learning and work, others believe it will be a time to relax and enjoy reward. Some believe in an old fashioned heaven of angels and clouds, some in a life similar to earth with progression and growth. Many believe other ideas such as reincarnation, or becoming one with the earth’s life stream, or that this life is it, but just imagine you could choose…

Llanberris Pass Snowdonia - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

If life after death requires yet more conforming and duty, then right now I can do without it! I’m looking to escape into the hereafter with romance and nature and endless mountains and waterfalls… I plan Scottish mountains and lochs, Welsh valleys and autumn weather. Time and access with those I love and time to be creative, whether that’s spiritual, emotional, or even some kind of physical.

Oh, and I want dragons… There have to be dragons…

I don’t want what happens after death to be linear, I’m happy with time differences, travel, movement, and much more. I want to discover my full potential, something I doubt will happen in life.

Autumn Dragons in a sparkling sky by Lisa Shambrook

Autumn Dragons © Lisa Shambrook

So, if you had a choice and weren’t limited to your belief system,
what would you choose?

How would you choose to live your forever?

0000. Divider

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealFreya 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 published by BHC Press 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 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.

The Inevitability of Death – How Do You Cope?

I have an interesting relationship with death.
It doesn’t frighten or worry me and sometimes I look forward to embracing it.

The Inevitability of Death – How Do You Cope

I’m often told my lack of fear is due to my belief in life after death, and it may be, I can’t see it without that option. Living this life, to me, makes no sense if there’s nothing else before or after it. This life is tough and often unrewarding, though it has its moments and times of great joy, but we slog day after day doing the same things ad infinitum – so my heart and soul needs something more to come afterwards!

Many have a belief stemming from religion, but that’s not what this post is about. If life after death requires yet more conforming and duty, then right now I can do without it! I’m looking to escape into the hereafter with romance and nature and endless mountains and waterfalls… Freya chooses her own heaven in Beneath the Rainbowbut, I digress.

I’ve known death, from losing beloved pets, to relations and friends, to staring it in the face myself at my own potential hand. Death has broken me, interested me, and fascinated me.

I suppose it was inevitable that my first published work would include it. In fact, it ended up being integral to Freya’s story in Beneath the Rainbow. The very first line in the book begins with her death. Don’t think it’s blasé, it’s not. It’s devastating, but ultimately inspiring and healing.

When the bluebells finished... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

When I first wrote this book, the only deaths I’d known were grandparents, I was sad, but none of us had been that close. Losing my first cat was distressing in a totally different way and it broke my heart, and losing a pregnancy was utterly soul destroying. However, readers wrote to me asking how I’d known their pain, and how had I managed to get it onto paper in such a poignant and soulful way? Writers have an innate sense of empathy – and additional magic.

It is a beautiful thing to be told that you’ve helped someone’s healing. Since then I’ve lost my own mother to Alzheimer’s and then to death. That’s a story in itself. Alzheimer’s steals someone from you in increments, and when they die it is often a relief. I grieved my mother many years before death took her. Yet, I’ve been advised by many to get grief counselling, and I may still need to do that.

Rhapsody in Blue Rose - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Death is at odds with life, there will be no escaping it. I watched Grayson Perry’s Rites of Passage (on Channel 4) opening episode about death and how different cultures deal with it and I was taken by its openness, honesty, and authenticity. He visited a people in a culture who kept their loved ones in a separate room for over a year, often visited and mourned, and loved, during that time, but funerals didn’t happen until they were ready and prepared to let the loved one leave. He then spent time with a family who’d lost their son and kept a shrine and an untouched bedroom for him and another couple where the husband was dying from motor-neurone disease.

It was the final couple that intrigued me most. They had a living funeral, where all his family and friends came together to share memories and stories, and to leave physical memories in a memory jar, created by the artist Grayson, to be enjoyed by Roch before he passed away. It was beautiful and tearful.

I’m very interested in other peoples’ views of death, death itself, and how we deal with it… In Beneath the Rainbow Freya watches her family crumble after her demise and is desperate to be with them. It takes her mother discovering secrets Freya left behind before she can begin to cope with her grief and begin to heal. Freya then encounters someone else near to the end of their life and does everything she can to help him achieve his last wishes.

Room full of angels... Beneath the Rainbow - Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

How do you deal with death? My own feelings are very strong surrounding my own wishes for what happens when I die. I don’t want a funeral service, I can’t bear the thought of people who barely talk to me or share my life to gather and mourn me at a service where I’m nothing more than a memory and hymns. I want something quiet and family based with real memories and emotions, at a place where my ashes can be scattered where I loved life. I want Audiomachine’s Rebirth from Tree of Life playing on a device on a mountain top with my family laughing, crying, and remembering me!

Death can be devastating, scary, heartbreaking, relief, inspiring, and beautiful… and many more emotions. How does it affect you?

What are your thoughts? How do you want to be remembered?
Or is it something that never enters your mind?

Does death worry you or is it just a fact of life?

Dried Dead Leaf - The last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealBeneath the Rainbow is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will completely enchant you.

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.

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

Beneath the Rainbow is 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 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.

Snow Feathers…

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

Snow Feathers title for The Last Krystallos blog post

It’s been snowing, just a bit…

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

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

Snow Feathers… such a gorgeous way to describe snowfall…

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

© Lisa Shambrook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I love snow!” shouted Steph.

“And me!” added Jasmine.

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

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

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

Rachel nodded and grinned at the sight before her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tiny snowflake beginning to melt

© Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about snow?

Beneath the Rainbow Lisa Shambrook BHC Press cover revealBeneath the Rainbow

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

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

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.

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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… 

Decorating Christmas Cakes…and a Competition

Christmas cake – are you enticed by taste or decoration?
In our family, Vince and the children make the cake
and I decorate it – and we get the best of both worlds!

Chrismas-cakes-decoration-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos-title

real-christmas-tree-the-last-krystallos-2015

© Lisa Shambrook

Decorating the cake has become a bit
of an event in our household

and this year you can join in…

So, gifts have been bought, nativities visited, carols are being sung, my frosted icicles are up, and the tree is clothed with an eclectic assortment of baubles. Steampunk, glass, and wood ornaments, Santa and reindeer, snowmen and frost, stars and angels…and much more. I love arty trimmings and my tree is pretty much a mix of shop bought and homemade. And this year we even invested in a real potted tree, which I adore!

Polar-Bears-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2009-close

© Lisa Shambrook

But now for the cake. Several years ago I watched Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas where they made polar bears for the Christmas cake. I made notes and sketches, and disappeared the next day into the kitchen with fondant icing… A few squashed bears later, I had my cake. I revealed it to the family to much delight, as the most I’d ever done on our cake before was rough royal icing with a couple of shop decorations placed on top, maybe a sprig of holly if I wanted it to look posh!

Penguin-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2011

© Lisa Shambrook

The next year I upped the stakes, shut myself away, and created penguins. Let’s just say several penguins got thrown across the kitchen amid tantrums, as black food colouring in white fondant seemed not to be the easiest icing to work with. The family were refused entry into the kitchen, purely because I wasn’t sure it would work – and I’m sure they wondered what on earth I was doing! In the end the penguins sat enchanted beside a melted glacier mint pond.

Robin-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2011

© Lisa Shambrook

Then I decided to learn how to cover a cake in smooth fondant icing and we got cute, fat robins atop a winter tree.

Melting-snowmen-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2012

© Lisa Shambrook

My most favourite cake came next, and Pinterest was pretty influential. Wow, the ideas! I saw melted snowmen cookies and took it another step, placing three on my cake. This time the cake was covered with smooth fondant and topped with rough royal for snow. The actual snowmen were marshmallows melted for a few seconds in the microwave and decorated with eyes, nose, twig arms and silver sugar balls for buttons! This one was so effective!

Button-Christmas-tree-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2013

© Lisa Shambrook

Not sure how to top my melted snowmen, I was inspired by creative Christmas card designs on Pinterest using buttons. I made a classy Button Christmas tree with chocolate fondant and green sugar strands and added fondant buttons and silver balls.

Ivy-Christmas-Cake-the-last-krystallos-2014

© Lisa Shambrook

Last year I took the traditional Yule log idea and covered the cake with smooth chocolate fondant, then it snowed with rough royal icing and I twined fondant ivy all around, adding sprinkles of glitter powder for frost and crushed, melted glacier mints for ice

Each time I decorated the cake, my family were kicked out of the kitchen with not a peek at the cake until I was done. They were soon offering furtive observations and asking crafty questions to discover clues, but I jealously guarded the secrets until the reveals. Now they put in official guesses and we see if anyone comes up with the same idea as me!

Christmas-cakes-competition-the-last-krystallos-lisa-shambrook

So, this year I’m opening up the question… What will I put on my Christmas cake? If you can guess how I’ll decorate the cake, you could win a signed copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’.

You’ll have to trust me that I won’t be swayed by guesses that appear here or on Facebook or Twitter…I am a woman of integrity, and I already know exactly how I’ll be decorating the cake this year!

I’ll put all the correct answers into the proverbial hat and pull out a winner when I reveal the decorated cake. Until I post the photographs of this year’s cake, you can keep guessing…

So, how do you think I’ll decorate our Christmas cake?

Beneath the Rainbow AD with SynopsisLeave your guess in the comments below, or on my Facebook post, and I’ll contact the winner in a post or message once the cake is decorated. I’ll post here and on FB, and the winner will get a signed paperback copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ just before or just after Christmas!
This contest is open internationally
.

If I can’t contact the winner, or there is no reply to my winner’s post within a week, I will choose the next correct or closest answer as winner.

 

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 Rainbow eBook Sale Amazon Countdown Deal…

Beneath the Rainbow eBook on Amazon Countdown Sale this week…

BTR_Lisa_1_99_10-18Grab it at a great price while you can! 

L_Shambrook_Beneath_the_Rainbow_Amazon-Low-Res-205kbBeneath the Rainbow 

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

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

Find it on Amazon UK for 99p and US for $0.99 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!

Beneath the Old Oak will be up on sale next week!  

A Purple Swathe of Bluebells – Beauty in Blue…

The Bluebell is the sweetest flower, that waves in summer air:
Its blossoms have the mightiest power to soothe my spirit’s care…
(Emily Bronte – The Bluebell)

a purple swathe of bluebells, purple swathe, beauty in blue, the last krystallos,

I promised a blog post on bluebells, an indulgence on my part as they’re my favourite flowers.

Blue, pink and white bluebells  © Lisa Shambrook

Blue, pink and white bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

I have clear memories of bluebell woodland walks when I was a little girl, running through the woods, jumping over tree roots and dancing through swathes of blue.

We didn’t live far from the Bluebell Railway, and a school trip saw me daydreaming out of the steam train window at the banks of bluebells. The verges and railway banks near my home were also strewn with the flowers during spring and I used to bring home bunches of wilting blue, pink and white bluebells for mum on the way home from school.

Bluebells never lost their appeal. That splash of colour, a carpet of blue from afar, delicate nodding bells, with barely there stripes, close up, and the air of mysticism…

Bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

Bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

Bluebells are symbolic of gratitude, humility and constancyall virtues that ring true to me – and they are closely linked to the realm of fairies, appealing to my love of all mythical and fantastical, ‘tis said that bluebells are rung to bring the fairies together.

As a child I adored Mary Cicely Barker’s Flower Fairies, my favourites were all the purple flowers, but her bluebell fairy disappointed me. I wanted her to look like the lavender fairy, so I spent many hours drawing and making up my own bluebell flower fairies. I only wish I’d kept the pictures!

It made sense that one day bluebells would burst forth within my own writing, and they did becoming a theme throughout my current series. The first book benefitted from a photoshoot in our local bluebell woods, Greencastle Woods, and became the cover of my first published novel ‘Beneath the Rainbow’. That’s my daughter in the picture, recreating a scene from the book where Freya finds herself in her own heaven. Her favourite place in her heaven is sitting amongst the bluebells, where she finds peace and calm. Bluebells also become a source of both grief and comfort for Freya’s mother, a way of showing the passing of time, and become a recurring theme in all three books.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

In my own life, bluebells are a source of joy, heralding a season of growth and new life, and they always ignite memories encouraging gratitude and introspection.  Bluebells inspire me and make me happy, maybe it’s their colours. My favourite colour is green, closely followed by all shades of purple and lilac. Green offers calm, soothing, restful tones of growth and inspiration, and purple is the passionate, harmonious, meditative colour of creatives and the mysterious. These colours are me, so the bluebell becomes a signature flower, a representative of my own personality.

Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

This year I have made time to walk our dog through our local bluebell woods as much as I can…enjoying the beauty, the swathes of blue and the quiet of nature. In Wales, the bluebells are at their peak, and if you can go seek out your own woods…see if you can hear the tinkling bells and fluttering of wings…

Are there bluebell woods near you? Let me know, and if I’m ever up your way in the spring, I will check them out!

beneath the rainbow, beneath the old oak, lisa shambrook, books, novels, If you want to read
‘Beneath the Rainbow’ and
‘Beneath the Old Oak’
all links are on my website.

Beneath the Rainbow:
“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”
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.

Beneath 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 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.

swathe of bluebells, bluebell woods, greencastle woods carmarthen, bluebells, the last krystallos,

Bluebells, Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook