Tag Archives: Christmas

A Symphony of Dragons, A Winter’s Romance, and Human 76 – Christmas Book Choice

Books are the perfect gift for Christmas
Short stories are ideal because they fit into your life
and you get to discover new authors to thrill you!

Symphony Dragons - Winter's Romance - Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook

Short stories are the perfect way to find new authors, to discover new favourite stories, and to see who you want to read next… No matter which genre you love one of these three books will hit the spot, either for you or for the bookworm in your life.
Three collections of short stories guaranteed to delight you.

Symphony_of_Dragons_Lisa_ShambrookIf you adore dragons and an eclectic choice of stories my latest release: A Symphony of Dragons contains seven stories that are linked through the theme of dragons.

Soar on dragon wings within a collection of fantasy, contemporary, romance, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic tales composed with the gossamer threads of dragon fire.

You’ll find yourself lost amid a lyrical quartet of seasons as you discover the dragons that bring you Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Read a short steampunk tale of magic and love potions… My sweet, icy romance (also found in A Winter’s Romance and too good to leave out of my own book!). A beautiful conclusion to my Hope Within novels, find out what happened to Freya, Meg, and Jasmine. Witness the passion of dragons as they twist and soar through a glittered sky. My longest story (also found in Cutthroat and Curses) will entrance you with steampunk pirates raiding to save their lives, and the last post-apocalyptic tale will introduce you to The Seren Stone Chronicles and a whole new future…and you will find dragons in every tale.

AD A Symphony of Seasons - A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook

You can buy A Symphony of Dragons, featuring my own cover art, in eBook or paperback at most online stores. You can also buy a signed paperback (at a discount price) in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.

A Winter's Romance BHC PressIf you are looking for romance, this is a beautiful book to cosy up with this winter: A Winter’s Romance by BHC Press. 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!

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…You can find

AD Between Ice and Fire -Lisa Shambrook - A Winter's Romance AD

A Winter’s Romance in a gorgeous Paperback and Kindle on Amazon. And find it at all online stores at BHC Press.

Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook - Michael WombatAnd if you prefer adventure, the brilliant post-apocalyptic thriller: Human 76 put together by myself and Michael Wombat is perfect.

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!

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.

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…

AD Ghabrie Intro Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook

Human 76 is available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon UK and Amazon US and your own Amazon store, 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 any 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, preload a Kindle, or buy it and give yourself a well-deserved treat!

L_Shambrook_The_Hope_Within_Novels

You can also pick up my Hope Within novels… available on Amazon and online bookstores. Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star are books that will lift your spirit and steal your heart. All three are available as signed paperbacks at a discount in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.
Beneath the Rainbow signed 1st edition paperback is currently priced at only £2.50 + P&P a true bargain at Amaranth Alchemy!

So, find your Christmas books, your gifts, and your next read, and enjoy!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Loving Winter’s Chill – The Best Bits of Winter

Winter is the season of warmth and chill –
the warmth of sharing and loving and the chill of blizzards.

loving-winters-chill-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

Night Sky and Scented Candles…
I love it when the clocks go back… Night draws in and the stars twinkle with winter diamonds, and this winter Venus has sparkled like a gem in the sky. Inside, I burn scented candles: Cherry Vanilla, Chocolate, Berry Trifle, Honey Clementine, and the sweet aroma of Macaroon, Apple Strudel, and Snowflake Cookie waft down the stairs from my daughters’ rooms…

night-sky-and-scented-candles-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Frosted Leaves and Winter Trees…
I adore the bling that Jack Frost brings, sifting icing sugar across nature.
Leaves fall from trees, leaving them bare, and swathe the ground in glittered jewels.
Moss, the emerald survivor of the season, carpets the forest floor
and adorns the naked trees, clothing them in winter beauty.

frosted-leaves-and-winter-trees-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Warm Boots, Hats, Gloves, Scarves, and Cosy Blankets…
Don your best boots, wrap a cosy scarf about your neck, pull on a hat, and slip your hands into fleecy gloves – and you’re all set to wander out in the winter wonderland. If that doesn’t entice you, then snuggle down beneath a warm blanket and enjoy the central heating!

winter-boots-hats-gloves-scarves-and-soft-cosy-blankets-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Woodland Walks and Winter Landscapes…
The skies are a mixture of clear and frosty, rainy and dull, and rolling mist and fog,
enjoy those late sunrises and early sunsets and warm up with a walk.

woodland-walks-and-winter-landscapes-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Hot Chocolate and Winter Baking…
Baking takes centre stage with Christmas on the cards
from cookies, cakes, and pastries to hearty soups and winter cuisine.
Enjoy homemade fayre and settle with a steaming mug of creamy hot chocolate…

hot-chocolate-and-winter-baking-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Winter Flowers…
Delicate fairy-bell snowdrops peep through the snow or push through the soil to bring
new growth to the dormant season, accompanied by the beauty of hellebores.
Let winter flowers bring colour and hope.

winter-flowers-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Ruby Red Berries…
Like flowers, red berries, often associated with Christmas, shine bright like rubies, especially against the frost and snow, and they’re great sustenance for birds coping with the cold.

ruby-red-berries-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Christmas Joys…
My favourite holiday season is Christmas; it’s filled with so much joy and so much meaning. There are a multitude of celebrations during winter, all wrapped in lights, warmth, and love.
I love the Christmas cake, decorations, gifts, giving, food, and family time –
a time for peace and goodwill to all…

christmas-joys-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

All That Glitters…
Glitter everywhere – frost, snow, jewellery, stars, Christmas decorations, lights.
December glistens with Christmas sparkle,
and the rest of winter embraces the shimmer of nature
and the crackle of fire in the hearth.

all-that-glitters-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

A Crystalline Carpet of Snow…
When it snows I hurry to my window to watch the fluffy white stuff then rush outside to let it fall around me! That moment when you wake up and look outside and see a blanket of snow sparkling in the early morning sun is pure magic.

winter-snow-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

How is your Winter and what do you love about it most?

loving-winters-chill-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Check out The Best Bits of Autumn

Christmas Stocking Filler Amaranth Alchemy Offer

Christmas is only five weeks away,
and if you’re looking for beautiful and unique gifts for the
reader/writer/wordy person in your life
then look no further than Amaranth Alchemy on Etsy…

79-christmas16-offer-collage-nov-2016

And take advantage of our 25% OFF EVERYTHING offer until the 5th December 2016.

Just use the coupon code CHRISTMAS16 at the Etsy shopcheckout for 25% off…

All our products are great stocking fillers and no two items are the same.

We rescue old, worn, torn, damaged and abandoned books from landfill and breath new life into old pages…

The vintage book pages we use in our craft are always ethically sourced and we promise never to take pages from new books unless they are irrevocably damaged.
We will always recycle where we can, reusing envelopes and packaging to help protect the environment, but you can be assured your gift will arrive beautifully wrapped and ready for a new home.

70-more-from-amaranth-alchemy-2015
Take a look at our range and make someone happy with beautiful words..
. Like our Facebook Page to keep up to date with Special Offer Discount Codes and Giveaways!

Get your 25% off today – until the 5th December 2016!

Rudolph on Ice – Christmas Cake 2015

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer – won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

Rudolph-on-ice-christmas-cake-title-the-last-krystallos

Rudolph found his way onto my cake this year, though it looks like he’s got more grace in flight than on ice…

I found some great ideas on Pinterest and amalgamated a few to make my own design, but Rudolph came from this brilliant You Tube tutorial. My sugar-paste (fondant) skills are basic, but after a wonky Rudolph, I produced this one and was quite happy with him.

InstagramCapture_0579cb26-f08e-4192-a141-1fab353d6a36

Rudolph © Lisa Shambrook

I made small hills and covered the whole cake in smooth fondant, then placed Rudolph on top and shattered ice behind him. If you place Fox’s Glacier Mints on baking paper you can melt them at a low temperature (about 100C) for ten minutes and create ice. If you smash the mints first you get broken ice. (My mint/ice always bubbles, so if you know how to get smooth ice, please let me know!)

Phototastic-21_12_2015_7d4450a0-9c07-40f6-9ee6-bc69ff8097b8

© Lisa Shambrook

I bought a little set of small star stamp cutters, (I love TKMaxx) and made Christmas trees with them. Four of the large stars placed on top of each other overlapping ‘branches’ then four more smaller and finally four more tiny stars and a point on top. Very effective!

Rudolph-on-ice-christmas-cake-2015-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

A shimmer of royal icing snow and edible glitter and we’re done.

When I asked here and on Facebook for guesses, we had some great ones, including some left of centre Star Wars and Dr Who themed ideas – maybe I’ve been posting about Star Wars on Facebook a little too often 😉 We had starry nights, angels, Narnia (that would be pretty), reindeer, Santa and Rudolph, penguins, robins and Christmas Trees, and I’m not beyond trying something twice…and poinsettia…

InstagramCapture_a6021f5a-2e0c-42d2-8b74-8c4154798123

© Lisa Shambrook

The idea had been cemented and my plan printed out before I posted my last blog post, so the guesses were fun to watch and Eilís Phillips mentioned reindeer so she wins a signed paperback copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, but it’s Christmas and I decided to send copies out to those who also mentioned Rudolph or reindeer, so both Carly Sewell and Nick Johns win copies too.

At home Caitlin guessed reindeer on an icy road, which was right, and in Canada via emails Dan finally chose reindeer too, though he commented: I am probably completely wrong because I can’t read your face, ha ha… So that’s how he guesses!

InstagramCapture_44ad3114-03ea-400e-884e-3376cbdbe111

© Lisa Shambrook

So here’s to the most famous reindeer of all!

How are you decorating your Christmas Cake this year?

Christmas Gifts Amaranth Alchemy Offer…

As Christmas arrives…and it will, take advantage of our new offer at Amaranth Alchemy. Use coupon code: CHRISTMAS15 and get 25% off everything until 5th December 2015…

19. Christmas Collection Amaranth Alchemy Nov 2014It’s worth it! If you’re overseas it will help offset the shipping costs, and all our products are priced within £2 and £20. You’ll find original gifts for the book lover and reader in your family, and a plethora of stocking fillers.

 

6. CHRISTMAS Etsy 25 off 2015 JPEGMake your bibliophile happy with a bookmark, or print. Decorate with our Christmas plaques and tree ornaments, and tag your parcels with our beautiful gift tags.

amaranth alchemy winter gifts, etsy shop christmas, christmas shopping, stocking fillers, the last krystallos,Fix your notes upon your fridge with our pegs, and wear one of our stunning Scrabble style necklaces.

amaranth alchemy winter gifts, etsy shop christmas, the last krystallos,Pop over and see what you’d love…0. Logo Complete Rectangle

Great Books – Buy Indie this Christmas…

With Christmas coming, I’m sharing my favourite Indie reads…
So if you want to share the love and read some amazing books –
take your choice from a great mix of genres.
There’s something for everyone!

indie-support-the-last-krystallos-titleThe most important thing you can do to help an indie author or creative, is to support them by buying and reviewing their product, and then sharing and spreading the word as much as you can. I’m not asking you to shout about every book you read, but if you love it, then share the love and tell people – we’ll love you forever!

My_Name_Is_RowanMy Name is Rowan – Tracy Hewitt Meyer
Young Adult

This three-in-one book compiles all three Rowan Slone novels, so you get great value and a fantastic YA story.
This book has a depth and raw edge that many YA novels don’t, dealing with real teen issues and no sugar coating. Tracy Hewitt Meyer‘s writing is authentic and her words draw you right into Rowan’s life. The characters are so well drawn that I was still considering their arcs days after finishing each book.  It’s a story of damage and abuse, loss and despair, but ultimately of absolution and trust, hope and strength.
This book is a real page-turner and its heartfelt beauty will draw you in as you find out if Rowan can get her life back on track…

Dead_Sea_Games_J_HazzardDead Sea Games – Zombies – J. Whitworth Hazzard
Horror/Zombie

If you like stories about survival, about beating the odds against the flesh-eating hordes, then ‘Dead Sea Games’ is the book for you! J. Whitworth Hazzard’s Deathwish will keep you biting your nails as you urge him to outlive the forces against him…
I was gripped from the very first page of this harsh tale of life in a post-apocalyptic world, where the city’s surviving inhabitants live in tower blocks and stay away from the streets below. As the stakes rise, the characters are thrown into life and death situations, and this brilliantly disturbing series will stay with you…and you won’t want to put it down!
*Includes adult language

Wind Chime Cover_5Wind Chime Café – Sophie Moss
Romance

Whenever I visit Heron Island, I feel like the wind whispers through my hair, and I can taste salt on my lips, and hear the ocean lapping at my feet… If you love romance then Sophie Moss is the writer for you – she has a way with words that will draw you deep into life on the island and connect you with her characters. Gorgeous detail and imagery bring her stories to life setting you right there making you twirl like a butterfly as the tale infuses your senses. Taste the ocean, see the colours and inhale the aroma of sweet cinnamon rolls. You’ll hear crashing waves and the story will touch you, leaving you wanting more…

Orison-Cover-daniel-swensenOrison – Daniel Swensen
Fantasy

Captivating, riveting, fast-paced fantasy – ‘Orison’ enchanted me. Daniel Swensen is an intelligent and delightful writer, and if you haven’t read ‘Orison’ yet, you absolutely should.
From the beginning I was caught up in Story’s tale, as she leapt from rooftop to rooftop and several times, thanks to the author’s superior description, my heart was in my mouth. Swensen intertwines his characters and their individual tales so well, you won’t predict the plot, but you’ll be waiting for them to overlap, and you won’t be sorry when they do! Each character, from the quietly rebellious Story, worn-down Wrynn and loyal Ashen, weaves through the background of Calushain and an epic tale unfolds…you will be bookmarking this author for more.

cover front04 mainYou’re Not Alone – An Anthology
Mix of Genres

This anthology was put together by Ian D Moore and a group of authors who wanted to make a difference, all proceeds go to Macmillan Nurses as they help in the battle against cancer. Many of the authors have first-hand experience of cancer or know someone close who’s suffering, and were delighted to contribute to this book.
You will be whisked into a magical world of remembrance with Sylva Fae’s gorgeous tale ‘Lilies for the Mantel’, enchanted by my own fairytale ‘Love’s Silent Ache’, have your heart stolen byNico Laeser’s ‘No Longer Broken’ and stirred with ‘A Year Afterwards’ by Lesley Hayes. Throw in a great mix of stories including Max Power’s ‘Babes’, ‘Last Goodbye’ by Paul Ruddock, ‘If the Shoe Fits’ by Katharine E. Hamilton and ‘Ooh Air Margrit’ by Rebecca Bryn, and you’re onto a winner. These are just some of my favourites and there are plenty more!
The tales are a wonderful mix of genres and beautiful writing from great authors.

228148_417400521642905_511546514_nOceanswept – Lara Hays
Historical Romance

Swashbuckling pirates and romance on the high seas… I got caught up and swept along in this period pirate romance. I enjoyed Lara Hays‘ intricate and beautiful description and very much felt as if I was there on the ocean myself.
Tessa Monroe is lost at sea and rescued by pirates. On the ship, she finds herself in all kinds of trouble with only one protector, the dashing and mysterious Nicholas. She finds herself falling for this dark and enigmatic man in a way that she tries to fight, but as he consistently defends her honour he earns her respect and admiration. Tessa is a feisty lead and is a good match for Nicholas, but can they find happiness aboard a pirate ship?

EW-Cover-for-eboo-nEdgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire – Paul Ramey
Young Adult

This story held my attention and delighted me with its wonderful description and characters. This is a tale of gothic fantasy and contemporary relationships which will intrigue you.
Edgar is a teenager with an obsession for graveyards and history. He very soon finds himself in direct competition with the local society of ladies hunting down the fabled lost grimoire. Some fabulous characters emerge, one of my favourites being Corinthian, the cemetery attendant, who helps Edgar in his search. Edgar enlists the help of fellow teen Shelby and they get wrapped up in a beautifully described relationship and detective work.
You will love the history intertwined with the contemporary setting and a tale that will both delight and enchant you. I am looking forward to reading much more from Paul Ramey and Edgar Wilde!
*Includes adult language

lizzie-koch-adventures-of-katie-button-2015The Adventures of Katie Button – Lizzie Koch
Chick Lit

If you’re looking for a fun read, you’ll have just that with Katie!
Katie has a dilemma, two brothers, both vying for her attention…and her choice is made all the more difficult as she’s dreaming about one of them. As her dreams begin to collide with reality, scatty Katie must make a decision, but will it be the right one? Katie’s dreams begin to affect her work and she needs to find an answer…
Lizzie Koch writes with a sassy and fun attitude and Katie will warm your heart as she struggles to make her way through the day without making a faux pas. Katie Button is a character you’ll relate to and  and this chick lit book will both delight you and make you laugh.

MinstrelMinstrel – Marissa Ames
Historical Fantasy

A riveting tale of medieval intrigue. A powerful and captivating story set in medieval Tir Athair. Strong, fully-fleshed characters drive this tale, drawing you into a world where everything is about to change. Subterfuge and mistaken identities abound and you will be enthralled as you begin to follow frustrated Liam, feisty Molly, and formidable royal twins amid an intense power struggle.
The strength of Marissa Ames’ writing lies within beautifully realised characters, well-developed world building, tightly drawn politics and authenticity. This is a delightful and intriguing story that will keep you reading, and leave you wanting more from Tir Athair.

10898273_1521902424750674_3752184837970645176_nSkin Cage – Nico Laeser
Contemporary Fiction

An intriguing and enchanting read… The stylish cover piqued my curiosity, along with the idea of being trapped within one’s own body, and I knew I wanted to read this story. It’s an absorbing tale of a young man imprisoned inside his paralysed body, and his struggle to be heard. It’s one of those taboo subjects, and something that horrifies us, to be caught still totally lucid and alive, but frozen and unable to be heard.
Nico Laeser takes us through the inner workings of Danny’s mind with such fluidity and believability; it’s hard not to believe the author’s already been there himself. His language and writing and imagination creates an authenticity that drew me right in.
The beauty of Laeser’s writing kept me reading, particularly at the end, where it brought me to tears, leaving me wanting more and keen to read further works from this talented author.

12140898_1912278298997938_6642693972730892579_oThe Drowned Phoenician Sailor – Lesley Hayes
Contemporary Drama

I’m only 20% through this book, but it’s written with such beautiful prose and style that it has to be included… I’m hooked and intrigued and keen to see where the author is taking me. This is a character driven story and the protagonist is both flawed and fascinating. One of the best things about a story is the ability the author has to take me on a journey, and this one is exhibiting twists and turns, and a title that just makes me want to read on… Fynn is in therapy, but right at the start, her sessions are rudely interrupted by fate. You will want to know more, and as I know several readers who rate this book, and its author, incredibly highly, I know I’m going to enjoy it!

Final-Front-CoverThe Complicated Geography of Alice – Jules Vilmur
Autobiographical

There are stories in life that should be told, that need to be told, and this is one of them. Alice is alive with the fire of life, a yearning to be who she is and to be accepted, and my heart ached for both Alice and for her family. Teenage years are stormy for most, but for a transgender teen, life can be almost impossible. However, this book presents an honest portrayal of a family trying to cope through times of helplessness with humour, love and compassion.
The tears I shed for Alice and her family were genuine and heartfelt, as were the words tying this story together. Alice’s mother shares her story and writes with raw emotion, truth and grit. This story is a tough read, but one of the most rewarding you’ll find. I hope you will come away, like I did, with both greater understanding and compassion.
*Includes adult language

Cutthroats and Curses - An Anthology of PiratesCutthroats and Curses – A Piratical Anthology
Pirate

Ahoy there shipmates! If you’re looking for a swashbuckling, piratical tale…you need look no further…for ‘Cutthroats and Curses – An Anthology of Pirates’. Featuring eleven great writers: Michael Wombat, Lisa Shambrook, Boyd Miles, Marissa Ames, Bryan Taylor, Beth Avery, Matt Jameson, Eric Martell, Michael Walker, Stephen Coltrane, and Alex Brightsmith, there will be something for everyone!
My tale is a Steampunk tale of Captain Jericha Blacklocke’s bid to survive both catch twenty-two and a vengeful dragon to save her crew aboard The Paroxysm. A story thick with emotion and tension, corsets and longing, goggles and jewels, and a desire to survive and atone…
However, you’re going to love the eclectic mix of fantastic writing from some amazing authors.

There’s definitely something for everyone here! 

Click on the book or the title and find the Amazon.co.uk link…
to find your local Amazon replace the .co.uk with your own country link eg: .com .fr 

Button Christmas Tree Cake

This year’s Christmas cake hits all the right buttons! After polar bears, penguins, robins and melting snowmen…I was looking for a new idea. I found this pretty scrapbook Christmas card on Pinterest and inspiration hit!

Button Christmas Tree Cake decorated by Lisa Shambrook

This is how I put it together:

  • Marzipan and then cover the cake in white fondant icing.
  • Roll a narrow trunk from chocolate fondant icing and roll thin branches, six each side, stick them to the iced cake by brushing on water with an artist’s soft paintbrush.
  • Use whatever colour fondant icing you desire for your buttons. I wanted natural coloured buttons, so mixed white fondant with brown and added a couple of lilac buttons.
  • Follow instructions here to make your buttons (Pinterest is so useful!) In case the post is ever removed…roll fondant then cut out buttons using a tiny circle cookie cutter or the end of icing tips, add the holes using a cocktail stick, then decorate pressing the star end of icing tips against the buttons, or pressing a fork onto them, or indenting with whatever pattern you like.
  • Add your buttons to the tree.
  • Add small twigs, rolled from chocolate fondant. Gently mark the trunk to make it bark-like.
  • Add silver balls.
  • Add green sugar strands, use tweezers to pick them up and a cocktail stick to gently manoeuvre into place.
  • Make Royal icing and spread across the bottom of the cake and down the sides to make a snowy base, and add whatever sprinkles you wish. I added shop bought sugar snowballs, ice, silver balls and snowflakes.
Button Christmas Tree Cake decorated by Lisa Shambrook
Thus…a lovely Button Christmas Tree cake.
I always decorate the cake on my own and we have a small family competition to guess what they’ll find on top. The children made guesses, and came close, but this was pretty original!
In case you’re interested, these are the past years cakes…now to start pinning ideas for next year on my secret Pinterest board!
Polar bears, robins, penguins and melting snowmen cakes decorated by Lisa Shambrook
How are you decorating yours?

Tales by The Tree

An eclectic mix of Christmas tales, 
a story for everyone!
I was very privileged to be asked to write for a new Christmas/Holiday Season Anthology. Over 40 authors created 75 Winter tales for the book which donates all of its proceeds to Mount Rose Elementary School library in Reno, Nevada. 
My own copy…
The book is separated into four genres: Family Friendly, Traditional Tales, Holiday Humour and Noel Nightmares, each with their own beautifully illustrated title page. The fantastic cover and interior art, and all formatting was generously donated by Blue Harvest Creative. We, authors, were happy to write for a project celebrating this lovely time of year! 
You’ll find tales to delight children and adults alike, crossing the vast snowy plains, sorry, genres of this season…nativities, fairies, Santa stuck in a chimney, a town buried beneath ice, magic, unicorns, children desperate for Christmas Day, enchanted snowflakes, dragons, good deeds, angels, zombies, stars, invitations to macabre parties…and so much more!  
This book, the perfect accompaniment to Christmas, is available from Amazon in paperback and eBook. It’s ideal to dip into, read aloud in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter night, or enjoy anytime, anywhere!
Welcome to Tales by the Tree, a collection of holiday stories brought to you by a group of authors whose imagination knows no bounds. No matter how you enjoy your holidays, our collection features something for everyone. Included are Traditional Tales, Family Friendly, Holiday Humor, and Noel Nightmares.  

Grab a cup of cocoa and settle in for a long winter’s night with Tales by The Tree, an amazing way to discover new talented authors, many of whom are published and can be found on Amazon.

Tales by The Tree amazon.co.uk

Tales by The Tree amazon.com 

AMMC: The Little Mouse

My third and final tale for AMMC, a Christmas Anthology.

Genre: Traditional/Religious
Author: Lisa Shambrook
eBook: Yes
Dedication: To all who dream and believe…
The Little Mouse
Food was scarce, and the little mouse scampered hurriedly across the straw avoiding hooves and scavenging poultry. A chicken screeched in his ear and he skidded aside, ducking quickly beneath the manger’s wooden leg. He dragged a fresh piece of barley caught between his teeth and a couple of lost grains filled his swollen cheeks.
He peered out from behind the manger, chaos had broken out over the last few weeks and finding food had become a chore. His home was overrun with creatures of all kinds and his daily route for food was constantly obstructed.
His bright, black eyes stared with disbelief as yet more shouting rang out as another crude shelter was erected outside the livestock caves. A rough-hewn branch crashed down, its hollow thud resounding through the bedlam as it bounced and rolled. More yells and hasty footsteps followed before the makeshift roof was assembled, roped together above the temporary pens. He watched as more sheep and goats were crammed into the pens, and chickens flapped their irritated wings throwing dust into his eyes.  He retreated into the pungent, dank straw, longing for peace and quiet.
The little mouse awoke from his nap as light began to fade and streaks of red filled the sky. He noted with relief that the busy footfall had diminished moving into the streets rather than the livestock stalls. Music and chat poured from the buildings and the sounds and the spices of evening meals curled up into the sky, along with spirals of smoke and fire, but it was quiet in his little neighbourhood. The chickens slept, roosting upon beams and clustered in corners, the sheep cried out every now and then, and the goats had fallen silent. The donkeys in the stalls brayed softly, but these were familiar noises and the little mouse was calm.
As darkness fell, the little mouse scurried to and fro collecting food and grains, and preparing for night.
His tranquillity was rudely interrupted by footsteps, tired voices and the weary drag of hooves on the dusty ground outside, and he scuttled back to his hole.
He squinted in annoyance as a donkey clumsily stepped into the cave and a woman slipped off, steadied by the man at her side. Another man dropped the donkey’s rope, spoke quickly, and handed them an oil lamp before disappearing, leaving the couple alone in the dark stable. The lamp flickered, throwing dancing beams across the shadows and the man helped his wife settle into the straw. He dropped down beside her and wiped away the dust-stained tear that rolled down her cheek. A sheep bleated as a chill breeze wafted in and the man took his weeping wife with her swollen belly into his arms. Her soft moans echoed and the mouse withdrew.
It was very dark when the mouse woke again and moonlight tried to gain entry through the front of the cave. The little mouse ventured out, scampering across the floor, but was stopped by the sudden cry that echoed in the gloom. He lifted his head and rose onto his hind legs, and stared into the shadows. The cry wasn’t a lamb’s mewling call, or the soft bray of a donkey, or even a goat’s bleat, and the chickens were quiet…it was an unfamiliar cry and he stared harder.
Lit only by glimmering lamp light, the corner threw oddly shaped shadows as the couple quickly wrapped a parcel in their arms. The mouse crept closer, every fibre of his tiny being both fascinated and fearful of the soft cries that emanated through the night. At the foot of the couple, the mouse stopped and gazed, and as he beheld, so did every other animal in the cave.
The young mother wiped tears from her face with her threadbare sleeve and kissed her newborn, and the little mouse climbed up onto the man’s scruffy, leather sandal. The little mouse could not take his eyes off the tiny babe and leaned closer. The man felt the scratch of tiny claws on his raw, weary feet and glanced down. He moved his hand and the mouse flinched, but the man took the mouse in his large, rough hand and brought him up, cradling the tiny creature against his chest. His heart thudded and he whispered softly, “And his name shall be Jesus, and you, little mouse, shall be the first to see him…”
The little mouse relaxed and peeped over the man’s fingers, gazing in fascination and curiosity.
The noise from the late night streets had subsided, and from the fields round about came an altogether different refrain. His large ears heard music vibrating in the air, strains of glory and joy, and shivers reverberated through the little mouse.
A glinting moonbeam sought out the child in its mother’s arms and cast a halo around the babe, and the little mouse remained serene as the new dawn arrived…
(819 Words)

AMMC: The Star Shone Brightly

My second Christmas tale for AMMC:

Photograph and painting by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use)
 
Genre: Traditional/Religious
Author: Lisa Shambrook
eBook: Yes
Dedication: With love to all who learn they can and should shine brightly…
 
The Star Shone Brightly
Orion stretched languidly across the sky, winking at Danica or anyone else who might be admiring him, as he adjusted his sword and hitched his belt. Danica’s eyes darted away as her luminosity flared in sudden embarrassment. She curled her lip and her shimmer dulled as she slouched in melancholy.
Far below, the earth all green and blue, slowly spun, swathed in cotton-wool clouds, and Danica sighed. She was surrounded by twinkling stars, huge constellations of them, but she felt invisible.
She didn’t stretch across the night like Orion, was nobody’s first point of reference like the North Star, and didn’t hang glittering like the Southern Cross. She had no vast reach like the Great Bear and failed to shine like Sirius.
Danica’s gleam dulled and her sparkle was lost. The only thing that glistened was the tear that rolled down her cheek.
She didn’t notice the kerfuffle that arose with the entrance of Virgo.  She just moped behind Little Bear, until Little Bear whispered excitedly. “Virgo’s looking for a new star…Spica and her sisters are exploring the Galaxy!”
“What for?” asked Danica, peering forward as glitter erupted in showers across the sky.
Little Bear shrugged. “They’re not saying…”
Danica eased slowly out of her hiding place and strained her ears to listen.
“I’ll go,” boomed Orion, “I’m courageous and I’ll mark your place for you!”
“We’re good!” chorused Castor and Pollux, “Two for the price of one!”
Below them Draco roared. “If you want a real star…”
Spica twirled, shimmering in her sapphire robes, and shook her head. “It won’t work, you’re all too recognisable. No Hercules, it’s just not going to happen! We don’t need arrogance; we need humility, something new…”
Spica and her sisters sparkled and dazzled Danica as they swept across the blanket of indigo, dancing in and out of constellations, leaving a trail of glitter and restlessness in their wake. Danica stared after them, watching their effervescent cascade with eyes of envy.
The heavens stretched far and wide and the little star gazed as Virgo searched, hunting out the lesser known stars. She had no grand ideas and tucked herself back behind Little Bear, out of the way.
“I wonder what they’re looking for then?” wondered Little Bear, “Something new, something new’s happening. Look Danica, they’re coming back this way…you should show yourself…”
“I can’t,” protested the little star, “I’m nothing.”
Virgo swooped past Cassiopeia and as Spica swung by she noticed Little Bear kick a little star from behind him. Spica turned her head, sprinkling sparks as she came to a stop, and the little star tumbled down towards her. Danica sprawled before the beauty and her cheeks flushed again with hot, white light. She crawled backwards whilst offering apologies, until Spica leaned down and smiled. “And who are you?” she asked.
Danica gulped, her iridescence dancing in an aura of pure light. “I’m no one,” she whispered.
“No one?” Spica smiled softly, “You’re not no one, you’re the one we’re looking for.”
Little Bear grinned as his shy friend straightened her sparkling skirts and stared in wonder at the majestic constellation surrounding her. The sisters gathered Danica in their celestial arms and swept her off her feet.  “You’re the one,” Spica whispered in her ear, “the one who can change the world. Now hurry away with us.”
Several days later, a new star hung in the sky dressed in lustrous shimmering robes, only she wasn’t a new star and she didn’t have any new clothes. Danica sparkled and scintillated lighting a dark, inky sky, and three wise travellers used instruments to plot and follow her glowing trail. Whilst they journeyed, she shone with effulgence and guided both angels and shepherds, and glistened with everything she’d got, as a newborn cry rose from the stable heralding change in the world below.
And all around stars twinkled and gleamed, but none shone as brightly and as joyfully as she.
(654 Words)