Tag Archives: grief

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

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic…

Sometimes a book resonates with an emotional response you didn’t expect,
but it draws you in and you fall in love – Carol Lovekin’s Ghostbird does just that.

Lose Yourself with Ghostbird, Blodeuwedd, Myth and Magic... - The Last Krystallos

I don’t often blog about books, the last times I did were The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt and I have to be enchanted or moved before it hits these pages. My reading genres are eclectic, I like a bit of everything, but I fall heavily for beautifully written fantasy, a little romance, and quirky magic.

I was browsing my books and read the caption on the reverse of Ghostbird from Rebecca Mascull who said ‘Carol Lovekin’s prose is full of beautifully strange poetry.’ and I began reading.

This is the tale of Cadi, who doesn’t know who she is. She’s never been told anything about her father, she can taste the cloying secrets, and she is determined to uncover and break the spells about her. Her mother, Violet, is distant and lost, and her aunt, Lili, is bound by a promise she desperately wants to break.

The Hopkins women are well known in their little Welsh village, and they are surrounded by a cloak of mystery, flowers, magic, and a little bit of local scandal.

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - trying out words - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Carol Lovekin’s writing enthralled me, from beginning to end, and I truly did fall in love. She writes with poetic leaning, creating beauty and an enticing story. This is my kind of writing, with description that made me feel like I inhabited Cadi and Lili’s lives. The story has an ethereal quality and this is even more prevalent with the inclusion of the ghostbird of the title. This book unravels the secrets regarding the Hopkins women with a little myth and magic along the way.

The story of Blodeuwedd, from the Mabinogion, is referenced throughout, something I loved having studied the Four Branches of the Mabinogion with my daughter last year. This meant I was already up to speed with Blodeuwedd’s tragic story.

Cait's Blodeuwedd Owl mask - The Last Krystallos

Cait’s Blodeuwedd Owl mask © Lisa Shambrook

I asked Ghostbird’s author, Carol, about including the story of Blodeuwedd and how it had inspired her:

‘The idea for Ghostbird was a slow burner. I read the myth of Blodeuwedd (from the Mabinogion) in the early 80s and was immediately struck by the notion that her fate: to be turned into a bird, was a curse. As an owl, Blodeuwedd could surely find her freedom by flying away? It was yet another woman’s story begging to be retold from her perspective. So many legends and myths are of their time (and written by men) and by definition, patriarchal.

The idea stayed with me until, years later it re-emerged as the backstory to Ghostbird. At first I planned for the ghost’s voice to be incidental, albeit relevant. It was my astute editor who insisted, the ghost had to play a more prominent role. It was a joy to take the bones of the myth and turn it into the soundtrack to my modern ghost story. And in the process, to discover, that’s what I write: ghost stories!’

When I first read Blodeuwedd’s story I’d come to a very similar conclusion – despite the fact that being turned into an owl was essentially a punishment, it seemed to me to be a poor punishment, as it meant she finally had freedom. She’d been created without thought to who she was, and made for someone else’s pleasure, and rebelling against that had caused retribution, but to me she was given freedom and final liberty.

The use of myth and legend within fiction is something that inspires me. My current work is based on a myth, but a legend of my own writing. I resonated with Carol’s words about most old fairytales and myths having been written by men with suffering women within the stories, so writing my own legend, which you can find in A Symphony of Dragons, meant creating a woman resilient enough to carry the myth on her own. The resulting legend, threads through The Seren Stone Chronicles which I am currently enjoying writing.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I loved Ghostbird, because Cadi’s story echoed similar themes I’d explored in my own books. Beneath the Rainbow and Beneath the Distant Star both dealt with grief and loss, and mother daughter relationships, and Beneath the Old Oak spoke of family secrets. Ghostbird moved in different circles, with beauty, grace, and fierce women determined to protect and discover who they are. This is a book that will stay with me, for its magic, emotion, and tender charm.

Carol Lovekin is published by Honno a Welsh Women’s Press committed to giving opportunities for talented women in Wales to see their work in print. Carol’s stories reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of Wales. She is a committed feminist and has always found fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women’s collective stories. She began writing with a view to publication in her late fifties, having ‘suffered from arrested development for far too long.’ She now writes to keep up.

Ghostbird is her debut novel and Snow Sisters is her second book.  

Ghostbird Carol Lovekin - old magic will hear - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My parting words for Ghostbird are that so often I read sentences that just spoke to me, that described my own feelings, my own experiences, and it’s not often that an author can climb inside your head and touch you. This book touched my heart, the vulnerable bits and the happy bits.

Ghostbird - Carol Lovekin - Honno Press
You can buy:
Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin from Honno
from your local bookstores,
on Amazon UK Kindle, and Paperback.

Please visit her blog for further information and links.

The Practicalities and Fragilities of Death…

Death is a strange thing and people react to it in many different ways.
This post isn’t about grief it’s about the more practical aspects of death.

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My mother passed away three days before Christmas and though I’ve dealt with bereavement before, I’ve never had to deal with it in such a hands-on way.

I knew my mother was dying – it was expected, yet unexpected. There had been no time frame. She’d survived breast and secondary breast cancer for over twelve years, until pneumonia and Alzheimer’s took her. My father’s devastation was hard to bear, and when it came to dealing with death – he couldn’t.

We were there during those bitter-sweet moments that she took her last breaths, and as I hugged Dad I knew I’d be dealing with the arrangements. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to, I would have done anything to make this loss easier for my father, but making arrangements for the death of a loved one is tough.

fluffy-cat-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I didn’t know where to start. Who does? Life is about living, not dying, and death – and what comes with it – is very much avoided in general day-to-day life.

The practicalities put you into an auto-pilot mode, and can sometimes dilute your grief. There are things that have to be done and I was very grateful for the sensitive help and administration from my local hospital. The ambulance crew, nurses and doctors were considerate and caring and kept us informed and looked after. We knew this was a one-way trip, and my father would be leaving without his beloved wife.

lane-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Our local Health Authority produced a booklet Bereavement Information for Relatives and Friends (The government have a What To Do After Someone Dies site) and it helped us make sense of what was to come. The following day we contacted the hospital’s Bereavement Officer, no, I didn’t know that was a job, but I am very glad it is. He was wonderful, making sure we knew exactly what needed to be done. It was Christmas, and the holiday season was about to start the next day, but he made sure the medical certificate and coroner’s report were hurried through and he made us an appointment to register her death and get her death certificate before each of the offices closed for Christmas. It was good for us to have these technicalities out of the way so early.

The Registrar was lovely, making sure we were comfortable and informed, and he was gentle and calm despite the raging torrential rain storm outside rattling the windows. Carmarthen also had access to the valuable Tell Us Once service, which informs all the government agencies of the death at once, so you have less people to inform.

wet-leaf-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

We had also called a trusted local Funeral Director and met him that afternoon. So many commercials on television claim you need to spend a small fortune on a funeral, upwards of £7k, but that’s not necessarily true. You can arrange a service to fit your needs and budget, though I won’t lie, it’s still an expense most us will agree is very costly. Council fees for a burial plot are about £1,000, but you can arrange the rest of the funeral to your budget.

You can have a direct burial or cremation without a service for about £1,000 – £1,500 and you can add to that any extra you wish.  There are several sites that can give you advice which you can find with this article from ITV’s Tonight Funerals: A Costly Undertaking?

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© Lisa Shambrook

I, and two lovely friends from church, dressed my mother’s body before my father offered his last respects, and it was a privilege to do so. It’s difficult to see your parent’s empty body, and not everybody will have the chance or choice to do this – we did in accordance to burial rites within our religion, but it’s a sure testimony to our loved ones having moved on and left this mortality.

My parents wanted simplicity from coffins to flowers, and we had a memorial service at the church we belong to without cost. We made it beautiful with words, simple white flowers and red roses, and love. Our Funeral Director, Peris Rice, was informative and accommodating, and Mum’s service, and then burial in the cold January rain, just before her 74th birthday, was beautiful and poignant.

funeral-flowers-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The whole process has left me with grief, relief, and a deep desire to be sure that I have talked about and thought about what I want in the event of my own demise.

We weren’t sure what Mum actually wanted, and I was floundering with putting together a service, then Dad phoned. He’d been clearing pieces of paper and notes from a box on the coffee table beside where Mum sat, and had come across a piece of paper. On it was a list entitled Hymns for my Funeral, and she had listed about fourteen hymns, numbering four of them. Beneath that list was a poem Death Is Nothing At All by Henry Scott Holland. I gave thanks, because we finally knew what hymns to choose and which poem my sister could read and they were perfect. The hymns we didn’t sing during the service became prelude and closing music, and they all spoke of Mum.

In the end I offered a eulogy inspired by photographs of my mother from her childhood right up to the present, which gave an insight into her life and what she loved, Jules read the poem which spoke exactly what I knew Mum would have said, and a dear friend spoke about Mum and our spiritual beliefs. I hope it was what she would have chosen.

funeral-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I have moved away from this experience with the need to make any future plans my husband or children might have to put in place as easy as possible. We are all going to die. I don’t fear death, but I do have wishes and desires I would love to accompany my flight from this earth.

Neither of my parents had wills, and Dad now understands the importance of making one. We are now facing looking at Probate, and are discussing Lasting Power of Attorney, and Wills…and I want all these things sorted out, not only for him, but also for myself and my family in my own mind and on paper too. We need to talk about what we want – from services, coffins, wills, music, organ donation, religious rites, finances, do-not-resuscitate forms, living wills, and anything else that might be, for some, uncomfortable to discuss.

I want my views known to my family, not only about decisions made when I die but decisions that will affect my life. I want us to talk about care as I get older, what I want in the event of Alzheimer’s or cancer, or any other life changing/threatening disease. I want them to feel loved and not burdened, and I want to be sure I continue and leave this life with grace and dignity.   

funeral-rose-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My views on remembering the dead are a little different from the norm. I would very much like to keep it simple and quiet, perhaps even without a church service. I wish for flowers to be gathered from the season and tied simply with string and left wherever my ashes are strewn, and a poem, or reading, or memories are shared, by woods or a river among nature that I love so much, with my family and loved ones.  

How do you feel?

Is death a taboo subject or have you made your wishes known?

What are your thoughts on the fragility of death?

Honour those who’ve Gone Before – Send 2016 to its Grave – and Fight!

This is a difficult post to write… We are at the rear end of 2016
and many of us are very pleased to see it close.
I’m not blaming the year itself, but it’s as good a time as any to start anew…

honour-those-whove-gone-before-send-2016-to-its-grave-and-fight-the-last-krystallos

It’s been tough year politically, personally, and for many of us devastating in different ways. We have mourned political change, grieved lost and broken promises, and endured lies and political manoeuvres. We’ve lost celebrities, almost at a rate of several a month, and we have lost many close to us. Members of my own family and my husband’s family have lost loved ones, and we are holding those still in ill health close to us. As human beings we have also mourned the loss of families and individuals unable to escape war and destruction, and have seen refugees both rescued and shunned.

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© Lisa Shambrook

We’ve been hit by celebrity losses, usually those who’ve been part of our formative years, like Harper Lee who inspired me with To Kill a Mockingbird, Alan Rickman who’s acting has been a delight, and as a huge Star Trek and Star Wars fangirl: Anton Yelchin who played Star Trek’s latest incarnation of Chekov, Kenny Baker – R2D2, and yesterday, Carrie Fisher. You’ll be able to add many more to that list, as we’ve all been affected by those we loved.

jo-cox-labour-mp

I’ve been hit more this year by the personal losses, not only mine, but many around me have lost loved ones. I was deeply affected by the murder of Jo Cox during the Brexit campaign. It added to my despair of humanity that someone who preached “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us.” could lose her life to an extremist. It was a terrible indictment on society.

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© Lisa Shambrook

My personal depression grew and was compounded throughout the year with the political and public reaction to refugees and those escaping regimes and war. I wondered where compassion had gone that society could publicly turn away from those in need?

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© Lisa Shambrook

At the beginning of September I stood in a place I never want to stand again. I won’t go into detail but I was on the cusp of becoming one of 2016’s statistics. After that night, I went for help and am currently taking antidepressants and counselling. My depression has grown over the years as I’ve spread myself thin to help care for my ailing parents and battle for help through Social Services.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Last Thursday, after about twelve years of constant illness including breast cancer, then secondary breast cancer of the bones, severe diabetes, a partially collapsed lung, glaucoma, and progressive Alzheimer’s, my mum peacefully passed away in hospital with pneumonia. Her Alzheimer’s had broken my heart, and almost taken my dad. I am currently coping with grief and relief, and everything this year has thrown at us.

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Yesterday, Carrie Fisher passed away after a massive heart attack. I loved her for more than just Star Wars…she fought for mental health awareness, she battled addictions, and kicked the media’s ass when they attacked her for her looks and weight when she returned to Star Wars. She knew who she was, she was excellent at what she did, and fought for what she wanted. Carrie Fisher made Princess Leia badass and turned her into a fighter, who survived and lead the resistance even when the men in her life let her down. Princess Leia grew into General Organa, and Carrie did the same in her personal life.

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© Lisa Shambrook

It’s hard for me to lose my mother, then another inspirational woman, but when we lose heroes we need to try and live what they taught us. My mother taught me much, and I have aspired to be an even better mother to my own children, and I want them to live in a world where those who’ve gone before have made the world better.

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© Lisa Shambrook

So, in the words of Anne Thériault on Twitter –  ‘May we all be able to get up every day and, in spite of our pain and loss and fear, put on our boots and vest and plan to destroy the empire.’ (Check out Anne’s thread on Princess Leia/General Organa…it rocks!) This is how we live, how we continue to go on, to move forward and to honour those who’ve gone. We honour those who’ve trail-blazed, who’ve worked hard, and who’ve left us more to do – so, let’s do it!

Be bold, be Leia. Be true, be Carrie Fisher…

princess-leia-carrie-fisher

Let’s relegate 2016 to the dark and distant past, and kick 2017 into gear and fight!

We have empires to destroy!

 

Visual Dare – Crumbling

She couldn’t bear the shaving brush and foam on the bathroom windowsill, and his cologne still clung to the sweater gripped between her fingers. Martha buried her anguish within his scent and memories as she clutched his jumper to her face.

Six days was too long, far too long.

She shrugged his sweater over her head and ignored the cawing birds as they flocked beyond the cliffs. Their mournful cries served only to intensify her grief and choking sobs.

Two uniformed figures walked towards her; they’d known she’d still be there, down on the beach. Their gait slowed as the salty gale assailed them and their shoulders sagged. Black boots kicked the sand as they walked and as she watched behind her trembling fingers, the oldest removed his hat. Tears trickled and she knew what they’d say.

Six days was too long, far too long, and now – too late.

(149 Words)

00. VisDare Badge
Written for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare – One week, 150 words, one black-and-white photo that could spawn a hundred different stories.

Go take a look at the stories in her comments, each a different take on the picture above!

Author Feature: Jules Vilmur

There are stories in life that should be told, that need to be told, and this is one of them.
Teenage years are stormy for most, but for a transgender teen,
life can be almost impossible.
You will come away from this book, like I did,
with both greater understanding and compassion.

Complicated

Jules Vilmur lives in California with her husband and too many greyhounds. I found this enigmatic writer on her blog, Laurustina, after her sister, Bullishink, one day posted a link. I discovered a series of pieces about Alice, which touched my heart. At the time I had no idea of the background of these snippets, and once I did, I admired this wonderful woman and her writing even more. I am privileged to feature Jules here, with a book that became an inspired and life-affirming read.

jules vilmur author, the complicated geography of alice, author,

Jules Vilmur

Jules Vilmur

When I first discovered your story, told in snippets on your blog, I was drawn to your beautiful descriptions of heart-breaking moments, what I didn’t know at the time, was that it was true. I ­understand why you wrote it, but how difficult was it to turn it into a book and share with the whole world?

I had been blogging about my life and our family for nearly a decade, tucked away in my little corner of the internet, but after Alice’s death, I couldn’t seem to string a sentence together to save my life. Then in November of 2009, my sister Ruth (aka Bullishink) challenged me to join her for Nanowrimo. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop.

Virtually none of that first draft made the final cut but it was an incredibly therapeutic process. Taking time out between drafts was important. I waited six months between the first and second, then nearly a year between the fourth and final drafts. I also did a lot of writing aloud, inviting my family to jump in with lines of their own or whatever they thought Alice would say in a given situation. A lot of her profanity came like that and much of the humour.

The biggest hurdle was letting go of the idea of Absolute Truth in exchange for a story that made sense to the reader. Squishing multiple characters into one, shaving off extraneous subplots and rewriting family history felt like lying, but was necessary.

the complicated geography of alice, jules vilmur, book, transgender teen, transgender,

The Complicated Geography of Alice – Jules Vilmur

You tell your story bluntly, with humour, with sadness, and with love. It’s a story that will inspire and help many in similar situations. How do you think it can help the LGBT community, and if anything could change in the world for the better, after what you’ve been through, what would it be?

I wish for a better world, a safer place for kids like Alice, Leelah Alcorn and Kyler Prescott. I hope that readers will gain some understanding of and compassion for trans youth and those who struggle in these formative years. Being a teenager is tough, even in the best of circumstances. Add in issues of gender, sexuality or mental health and it can be agonizing.

A huge factor in my choice to publish with CreateSpace and Kindle, after a year with an inattentive agent, was that I wanted the book out there for the one person who might need it. If our story might help someone feel like they’re not alone or save one family from what we went through, well that’s worth it.

Alice

Alice

I came away from your book with much greater understanding and compassion. What do you think Alice would like readers to get from her, and your, story?

First off, she’d say I got it all wrong, that there wasn’t nearly enough glitter or Gwen Stefani and not a SCRUBS joke in the lot. Beyond that, I think she’d hope for more kindness and bravery. Encouraging others to live their truth was important to her. It takes a brave soul to step out into the light and be seen. When that bravery is met with kindness, we are all better for it.

Alice

Alice

I’ve read some of your flash fiction pieces and your writing is beautiful, are you writing anything more now?

Honestly, I’ve been lazy for a while now. There’s a stack of intertwined stories on my desk that I poke at when the muse strikes. But I know now that books don’t get finished without commitment and a whole lot of muse-less work.

It was important for me to tell Alice’s story simply, with all the fancy poetic language stripped away and now, as I work on other things, I find myself torn between lush language and telling a good, straight-forward story. There’s a balance there. I just haven’t found it.

Jules Vilmur, author

Jules Vilmur, author

We often talk of the need to create or write because of an innate desire, what does writing do for you?

I was an awkward kid, always felt on the outside of things, and writing was my way of dealing with that. I could escape into another world, or imagine controlling the one around me. In that way, it has always been my therapy.

I enjoy writing fiction, but even then it’s like I’m always trying to get at something – like there’s a purpose to it. My college thesis focused on the use of therapeutic writing with survivors of domestic abuse and I’m still passionate about writing therapy and its practical applications. As my friend Mateo once put it, “I’m not writing about these things as much as I’m writing myself out of them.”

the complicated geography of alice, jules vilmur, book, transgender teen, transgender,

The Complicated Geography of Alice – Jules Vilmur

I am full of admiration for Jules Vilmur, and her ability to honour her daughter’s memory, and this book is a fitting tribute. This book will be a huge support and can offer hope to those going through similar, or any, personal upheaval. I am incredibly grateful for the strength this family had to share Alice’s story. Love wins, always. 

The Complicated Geography of Alice is available in both eBook and paperback from Amazon UK, US and all local Amazon stores. Find out more on her Amazon Author Page.

You can follow Jules on Twitter @Laurustina and find her blog Laurustina, and she’s on Goodreads, Pinterest and Google+.

Mother’s Day Sale – Reach Beneath for Enchanting Reads…

Your mother’s heart will be captured with an enchanting
and uplifting gift for Mother’s Day this year…

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

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, Lisa Shambrook, grief, heartbreak, rainbow, bluebells, enchanting, uplifting,

Beneath the Rainbow – Lisa Shambrook

‘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, depression, run away, loss, oak tree, family,

Beneath the Old Oak – Lisa Shambrook

‘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’ is on sale from 1st to 15th March on Amazon. Kindle eBook £0.99 ($1.50).  ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is only £1.99 ($3.00). Also available in paperback (see below).

Amaranth Alchemy, UK Mothers day, sale, book page art,

Both books are also available at Amaranth Alchemy which is also offering a 20% off everything Mother’s Day sale – thus giving you a substantial discount off signed paperbacks!

Note: Mothering Sunday is on Sunday 15th March in the UK and Sunday 10th May in the US and much of the rest of the world.

Give your mother the gift of an enchanting read…

Five Sentence Fiction: Grief

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

“Pillarbox red…you know, red like that sexy scarlet lipstick I could never quite pull off…” Aggie’s laugh tinkled in the crisp morning air and she squeezed Harold’s arm. “Orange, well that speaks for itself, then there’s yellow, the kind that we all wore in the sixties or that they make those rubber ducks out of. Green…” she sighed, “the kind of green that spreads across the English countryside…fields and trees and hedges, that kind of green. Summer sky blue, and indigo, like a summer storm, a storm bearing down, broiling and threatening…and violet,” Aggie’s voice broke,  just for a moment, “like the stone in my ring, amethyst, like my engagement ring…that’s what it looks like…remember?”

Harold’s foggy eyes crinkled at the edges as he smiled and clasped Aggie’s hands tight within his own; he couldn’t see the tears, that rested like dewdrops on her wrinkled cheeks, any more than he could see the rainbow arcing across the sky, but he didn’t need his sight as long as he still had her.

000. FSF Badge  June 2012

My Five Sentence Fiction for the prompt word ‘grief’ over at Lillie McFerrin’s.

55 Words: Tears of the Innocent

sad-child

Photos found at http://www.publicdomainpictures.net Links on 55 Word Challenge Page

The trees arched overhead, foreboding and dark in the gloom of the forest; only whispers and sadness carried on the breeze, drifting high and swirling like ghosts through the canopy.
Now, decades on, the couple stared through red-rimmed eyes and bent their frail joints to touch the truck entwined in roots, their son’s last memorial.

(55 Words)

0. 55 Words Challenge

 

Written for 55 Words over at #55 Word Challenge, use one or all of the photo prompts to write a story using only 55 words or less.