Tag Archives: magic

Enchanting October…

October – my favourite month – darker nights, cosy blankets, thick socks, long boots, black cats, any cat, pumpkins, soup, apples, autumn colours, falling leaves, cooler weather, jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, hot chocolate, acorns, conkers, candles, frost, squirrels, bats, toadstools, mushrooms, magic, Halloween, and more… 

Enchanting October - Autumn - the last krystallos

What do you love about October?

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat – Enchanted and seduced…

Sometimes a book comes along that both entrances and seduces you,
and I was mesmerised by
Michael Wombat’s The Raven’s Wing.

The Raven’s Wing - Michael Wombat - Enchanted and Seduced Mediaeval Mystery and Magic - The Last Krystallos

I’ve said it before, I don’t often blog about books, I love reviewing them, but every now and then I’ll be so blown away they have to feature on my blog, like Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt. I’m a sucker for a book that draws me in with fantasy and quirky magic.

I’ve read several books by this author before, and always loved them. He has a knack for portraying truth and using description to weave you right into the story. We also collaborated, a couple of years ago, on Human 76, where Michael Wombat was a vital part of collating and helping to create a very original collection of stories.

The Raven's Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing is a labour of love and the resulting book is an incredibly authentic mediaeval novel with a hint of truth and chronicle behind it. Read the blurb:

They say you should follow your dreams. They never tell you what to do when the dreams start following you.
The year is 1322. Minstrel John has enough on his plate with his wife’s funeral. He could do without the naked woman who keeps forcing her way into his dreams, the angel dropping skulls in the village church, the stranger that attacks him for no reason, and the sexy, one-eyed, fire-dancer who is after only one thing – his music. Then there are the voices in his head, compelling him to investigate a mystery that just keeps on growing.
Based on a true story, this is not history, this is the 14th century as experienced by those who lived there, and who saw it as the leading edge of time. As John discovers, demons and magic can be very real.

white and dark feathers by the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The story begins with an intensely erotic dream, if you know Wombat’s writing you’ll know nothing daunts him, down-to-earth honest, bawdy realism and coarse language intertwine with sheer beauty and descriptions that will whisk you away to another time. After this you are introduced to John, a simple minstrel, and his friends as they deal with the loss of John’s wife. It could be an unassuming tale, but John’s life takes a turn that will change him forever as a mysterious skull is found at the funeral.

You will be drawn into his life and the mystery that shrouds him. You’ll love his friends and you’ll cheer John on as he humbly searches for answers. Wombat will take you on a tour of mediaeval Britain complete with myth and magic, and you’ll be left wanting more.

Print of Winter's Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Print of Winter’s Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Now, think about the 14th century and imagine you want to write something that truly reflected the period… I asked Michael Wombat about how much research went into The Raven’s Wing:

‘Since I first heard Steeleye Span’s ‘John of Ditchford’ 20 years ago I’ve thought it’d make a good root for a story. When I finally got round to building a proper tale around it, it took 6 years to research and weave a satisfyingly deep story around what was in real life a thuggish murder. I made sure to keep copious research notes (thank you Scrivener!), and included the most interesting things I discovered in the Notes at the back of the book.’

The back of the book Notes are a real treat. Knitting realistic 14th century dialogue, words, places, and much more into a modern-day written story isn’t easy, though Wombat has done it so well; the tale is both fluid and beautiful to read. Chapter-by-chapter Wombat analyses and explains his terms and wordage to both educate and fascinate you.

Six years of research must have brought up intriguing facts and stories, so what was his favourite?

‘The most fascinating part of the research for me was the songs I discovered. Songs of love, lust and weird stuff aplenty. And of course the medieval recipes.’

A friend of mine, Miranda, recently made Pentecost’s waffres, and said they were delicious!

I said earlier, once this tale is done, you’ll be left wanting more. Michael Wombat commented:

‘As for the future, I’m putting together a pocketbook of ‘Raven’s Wing Extras’ – sketches I made while writing the book, behind the scenes stories, character backstories and so on. Beyond that, I kind of left Jenifry and Moss with a massive cliffhanger – one day, maybe, I’ll write their continuing story.’

I definitely want more from this period of time and Wombat’s characters.

Michael Wombat and The Raven's Wing

© Michael Wombat

I am a big fan of Wombat’s writing with many of his books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves, and I look forward to reading more. Wombat is an eclectic writer with a penchant for the extraordinary, and reading his bio will let you know what you’re getting yourself into:

A Yorkshireman living in the rural green hills of Lancashire, Michael Wombat is a man of huge beard. He has a penchant for good single-malts, inept football teams, big daft dogs and the diary of Mr. Samuel Pepys. Abducted by pirates at the age of twelve he quickly rose to captain the feared privateer ‘The Mrs. Nesbitt’ and terrorised the Skull Coast throughout his early twenties. Narrowly escaping the Revenue men by dressing as a burlesque dancer, he went on to work successively and successfully as a burlesque dancer, a forester, a busker, and a magic carpet salesman. The fact that he was once one of that forgotten company, the bus conductors, will immediately tell you that he is as old as the hills in which he lives. Nowadays he spends his time writing and pretending to take good photographs. You can have a good laugh at his pathetic blog or his photographs, but most of all please go and mock him mercilessly on Twitter or Facebook. Michael Wombat has published over one book. Other authors are available.

Please follow him most actively on Twitter, find him on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, at Cubic Scats and sign up for his Patreon for new and exciting stories.

My last words for The Raven’s Wing – sometimes I get lost in stories because they seduce me, sentences inspire, and the story takes me somewhere completely new. Maybe you’d like to visit the 14th century? Go on give it a try… you won’t be sorry!

The Raven's Wing - Michael Wombat book coverYou can buy The Raven’s Wing

from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

It’s seriously worth every penny.

Magical Colours of Autumn

You all know Autumn is my favourite season.
Here’s why…

Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos
Let’s start with the coloursOrange and Black.  Now, strangely, I’m not a fan of orange, but I adore russet, bronze, copper, and flame. It’s all in the tone and the name! And black is a classic – the colour of night, the dark, and magic.
Orange is the sky before dusk, dragon flames, squirrels on mugs of hot chocolate, pumpkins, and homemade soup. Black is the colour of the sky behind a full moon, Raven cat, and dark gemstones.

Orange and Black - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then it’s leaves – every shade of russet and bronze, red, brown, yellow, olive, crimson, scarlet, and copper. As the tree turns passion burns…
I become a squirrel hunting for conkers, acorns, chestnuts, and acorn cups.

Leaves - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My jewellery box opens with autumn gems and jewelsAmber glows like fire, Trollbead bracelets glimmer with stones and glass, and smoky quartz smoulders. Rose gold, copper, and bronze brighten the crisp mornings, and berries glisten like jewels in the garden. Gems of fire like citrine, amber, quartz, and petrified wood glow with autumn passion, and squirrels and foxes accompany me out.

Gems and Jewels - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

And then we’re out and about – with woollies and jumpers on dog walks. I’ll be back in my long, black Docs stopping off for hot chocolate and woodland picnics. Home in time for a good book, cuddled up on the sofa, and ready for midnight jaunts to stare up at the stars…

Out and About - Magical Colours of Autumn - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

How do you spend autumn?

🦇🎃 Happy Halloween! 🍁🖤

Monday Mixer – Stars of Change

12. Monday Mixer - Stars of Change

© Lisa Shambrook

I’d hardly noticed my nose crinkle, but the strange essence swirling about me suddenly made my insides revolt as I landed face down in the leaf litter. My stomach turned and my throat released a splash of bright bile. I rolled onto my back and stared at the roof of the cave through the miasma of cold fog.

I blinked and tried to sit but my body refused to cooperate. I moved stiffly and brought my hands to my face. One hand clutched a stone, a rock, and I prised my fingers from it, wiping my mouth with the back of my sleeve as I gazed at the stone. It was just a dull, rough pebble, but from the fracture in its surface leaked light, sparkling, fluid, effervescent light. I cracked it against the frozen ground and gasped as the geode fell open between my fingers.

Crystal stars shone, stippling light through the mist that still veiled the cave. I shivered in excitement. Memories began flooding back into my head. The search through the cave for a fabled rock, disappointment, and fear, as I’d struggled through the fog to escape, and now wonder at the sparkling gems.

In one taciturn moment, I knew it all…

I knew the words, the prophecy, the promise, and my fingers gently stroked the crystals. They were soft, malleable, and my heart caught inside my throat as I altered its molecular structure. I now had what I needed, the power to, literally, change the world.

0. Monday MixerMonday Mixer is back at The Latinum Vault, and is a week-long challenge for those of more committed to time constraints! Write 250 words, no more, no less, and include at least one of each of the chosen nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you can choose from nine and if you choose to, use all nine prompt words! So, here’s mine, including five of the nine words (highlighted in my text). Stars of Change, see, I told you I’d be writing of stars this year!

 

More Life Lessons we can Learn from Cats

You can’t have too many posts about cats…no, really, you can’t!
So, here are some more things we can learn from cats.
Actually, I’d quite like to be a cat…

More Life Lessons we should Learn from Cats - The Last Krystallos

Some more life lessons we can learn from cuddly floofballs…

A cat purring on your lap is healing...as the vibrations pure love and contentment - Saint Francis of Assisi - The Last Krystallos

Fluffy © Lisa Shambrook

A cat purring on your lap is more healing than any drug in the world, as the vibrations you are receiving are of pure love and contentment – Saint Francis of Assisi
They say animals assist healing, both physically and emotionally, and they’re often used in hospitals to aid recovery, especially in children and the elderly. I know that a purring cat is one of the most beautiful things in my life. Stroking a cat and listening to their contented purr has the ability to calm me and make me happy.
We could try to be more understanding, calming, and let our words heal.

What greater gift than the love of a cat - Charles Dickens - The Last Krystallos

Misty © Lisa Shambrook

What greater gift than the love of a cat – Charles Dickens
As above, a cat’s love is given when you’re worthy of it, and is infinitely rewarding.

Cats possess numerous charms, and anyone who has ever loved a cat has fallen for its magic - Susan Easterly - The Last Krystallos

Raven © Lisa Shambrook

Cats possess numerous charms, and anyone who has ever loved a cat has fallen for its magic – Susan Easterly
If we could harness just an ounce of cat magic, we’d be rich in mystery, and able to weave spells of utter enchantment. However, we have buckets of magic to offer, if only we would recognise it in ourselves. Find your magic and weave your own spells

God made the cat - pleasure of caressing the tiger - Fernand Mery - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

God made the cat in order that humankind might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger – Fernand Mery
These miniature tigers and lions enhance our lives with their fun, love, and sense of adventure. We have the responsibility of caring for them and playing with them without the danger of huge claws and man-eating teeth…just small claws and small sharp teeth… Respect them!

Cats worshipped as Gods...Cats have never forgotten this - Anon - The Last Krystallos - Photo Caitlin Shambrook

© Caitlin Shambrook

Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as Gods. Cats have never forgotten this – Anon
Love this! Actually it doesn’t matter if cats were ever Gods, or if you are better than anyone else, cats generally love those who love them, and that’s a great ideal to live by! Again, it doesn’t matter who you are. As C. S. Lewis once said in The Weight of Glory It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible Gods and Goddesses…

As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat - Ellen Perry Berkeley - The Last Krystallos - Photo Bekah Shambrook

© Bekah Shambrook

As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat – Ellen Perry Berkeley
The cat is independent, and if you don’t treat them right they will walk.
I find several parallels with this quote. Every life on this planet is important, and we have been given the responsibility of caring for them and the planet that gives us life. This isn’t something we should or can walk away from. We don’t own this planet or any of the creatures on it, but our environment is something we should care deeply about. Unlike the cat, we can’t walk away if it’s not treated right.
And though cats wanderNot all those who wander are lostJ. R. R. Tolkien.

There are no ordinary cats - Colette - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

There are no ordinary cats – Colette
And there are no ordinary humans either… and to continue C. S. Lewis’ quote …There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Embrace your oddness, your quirks, and your funWe’re not meant to be ordinary!

Enjoy your relationship with cats…
Find your love and magic, and make sure you can roar and purr!

Also check out: Life Lessons we can Learn from Cats and Life Lessons we can Learn from Dogs.

#LoveATree Day… The Old Oak

How could I let #LoveATree Day go by without treating you to a picture of my favourite tree? So, yesterday I wandered through Green Castle Woods, as I have every Sunday for a few weeks, and took a pic…

green-castle-wood-old-oak-may-2016-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos.jpg

© Lisa Shambrook

Actually, I’ve taken a photograph every week for a bit and in a few weeks I’ll show you how this gorgeous tree has transformed from leafless to a full canopy. For now, enjoy this photo, as its leaves begin to unfurl and decorate this magical tree…

Thanks Annette for alerting me to this day with your own tree post!

Dark Fairy Queen – Midsummer Night’s Dream Contest: An Eye for an Eye

fairy, fairy dreams, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

An Eye for an Eye

Ariana released a soft sound of surprise that echoed slightly in the low evening light as her mother’s guiding hand scribed urgent words on her palm.

Though sightless and deaf, Ariana felt her mother move away and she instinctively pressed her toes into the grass. Drops of dew, decorating her bare feet with diamonds, reverberated, and micro echoes vibrated across her skin. She stretched her fingers through the echo of her mother and let the jasmine scented air whisper. She wondered what her mother’s urgently etched words on her palm meant.

Then the wind blew through her and whipped up a storm, and an unpractised murmur left her silent lips as the tornado whirled about her.

The wind spoke with an unintelligible moan, but she heard it – and then whispers, soft whispers susurrated in the arcs of light that suddenly filled her vision. She opened eyes that hadn’t opened in years, and light fluttered like a new-born butterfly.

With wonder she heard the whispers uttered by her own mouth. Delight filled her heart, swelling within her bosom, and she knew her days of night and lengthy silences were finally gone.

Mother had promised that one day she’d both see and hear, and now she could…

She blinked, and gazed upwards, letting the soft crimson sun tickle her face, and its familiar warmth sent shivers of delight down her spine, and twilight’s tears rested like raindrops on her cheeks. Her eyes began to focus, and the yielding sounds of dusk filtered through her mind, and she twirled, enjoying the senses that now filled her soul!

Her mother stood, facing the sunset, her back to Ariana, and Ariana gently stepped closer, relishing the green blades of grass between her toes and the vivid colours that now flooded her life. She brimmed with gratitude for whatever spell her mother had cast, and threw her arms around the woman before her.

Her mother’s unexpected flinch sent a spike of ice through her heart and she spun her mother round. Sightless eyes returned her stare as the sun slipped away, flushing Ariana’s new world into unknown indigo and gold. Words could still not yet form in Ariana’s mouth, but understanding grew, and she knew her mother had traded, an eye for an eye.

Tables turned, and through tears that twinkled like glittering stars her mother blindly felt for Ariana’s guiding hand.

* * *

My entry (396 Words) into our Dark Fairy Queen’s New Contest

DFQMND-204x300Details:
It is summer, a faint breeze blows, and the leaves are rustling. As dusk falls, the fireflies glow in a distant meadow. Have you not felt the magic of a summer night?
Your story should let us celebrate a midsummer night by creating 400 words.
For your theme, your story must take place, at least in part, on a summer evening. Also, choose one from the following list:
Dreams – Fairytales – Myths
Your story should be posted on your personal blog or a friend’s and linked up below with the Inlinkz tool (which opens July 15).

Please click the link below and read the other enchanting entries!

The Old Oak: Green Castle Woods

I have a real thing for trees, and in particular oaks.
I live in a market town which thrives on the legend of its old oak,
so it’s perhaps appropriate that the oak inspires me!

the old oak green castle woods, the last krystallos,Maybe I’ll write a post about Carmarthen’s Old Oak in the future, but today I want to show you my favourite local oak. It’s not a towering, far-reaching, huge, sun-blocking tree; it’s small, but adorable.

old oak tree green castle woods carmarthen, the last krystallos,

The old oak in spring – Green Castle Woods – May 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve tried to find out information about its history and come up with nothing, but it entrances me all the same, and I cannot walk by without imagining a rich past and a fantastical future! I imagine dragons wheeling above, squirrels collecting acorns, and creatures hibernating within its embrace.

The Old Oak in winter - Green Castle Woods - Dec 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

The old oak in winter – Green Castle Woods – Dec 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

When I first saw it, standing alone, I thought it was dead, especially as it was midwinter and bare, but as spring dawned I noticed new growth and my own excitement burgeoned just like its leaf buds! It spread gnarled branches, and foliage erupted and beauty ensued. It quickly became the most beautiful and unusual tree I know.

The old oak seasons - Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

The old oak seasons – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

This oak is not much more than ten feet tall, and hollow. I know nature withstands a great deal, and the fact that it is fully alive amazes me seeing as it’s almost completely hollow. It stands alone in the middle of a reclaimed meadow in Green Castle Woods. It’s a popular dog walking area and we often take our German shepherd around the surrounding woodland and wander through the gorgeous bluebell woods. These woods inspire me and they’ve also become the place where each of my book cover images were taken. You’ll see the bluebells on the cover of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, another oak on ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ and in the future you’ll see a carved out trunk on ‘Beneath the Distant Star’.

baby owl in owl box green castle woods, the last krystallos,

Baby owl – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

Woodlands and trees offer me solace, perhaps there is nothing (except the ocean) more soul inspiring to me than the wind whispering through the canopy above, and the crunch of leaves and twigs beneath my feet. The vibrant colours that shine as the sun peers through the trees and the wildflowers peeping through the foliage and the undergrowth delight me.  I love the fragrance of spring, fresh and clean, and the musty rich scent of autumn as the season turns.  It’s peaceful and beautiful and I’ll always return to the woods.

Take a wander through Green Castle woods (click for map and leaflet), on both sides of the road, and you could find a Butterfly Totem pole, a bench protected by carved owls, an actual owl living in the well-hidden owl boxes, a bench decorated with the sun and the moon, a miniature replica of the main walk, a walk across small bridges and through the woods, my gorgeous almost magical oak, and much more. Like I said, I’ll always return…

Green Castle Woods - Carmarthen  © Lisa Shambrook

Green Castle Woods – Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about the woods, and what is your favourite woodland tree?

Dirty Goggles: The Apothecary’s Art

This is probably the most difficult contest I’ve been part of…Steampunk and Dieselpunk…I’m a huge steampunk fan, but writing it’s another matter altogether. It has, though, been lots of fun!
This is for the Dirty Goggles Blog Hop, put together by Ruth, Jenn, and Steven.

The Apothecary’s Art
Steampunk
698 Words
Lisa Shambrook
@LastKrystallos
Safe Content

The Apothecary’s Art

Razor-sharp claws hung just shy of his eye and a bead of sweat slipped down his cheek as his brass-topped cane clattered to the floor. The dragon hovered, its leather wings beating a rhythm of their own and armoured spines glinting down its shimmering, metal back. It clicked and whirred and glanced at the watching girl.

“Could you call it off…please?” Anxiety rippled in the stranger’s voice and Elspeth smiled.

“Why are you in my shop?” she asked.

“Looking for you…” he replied as the clockwork dragon flapped its wings and dipped closer.

“After closing?” Elspeth stared at his long, dark hair, and the top hat now lying abandoned on the dusty floor. He struggled to maintain his awkward position, pressed against the medicine cabinet, and she knew beneath his floor-length coat lurked fear. “Who are you?”

 

Symphony_of_Dragons_L_Shambrook_FC_WEB
This is a preview to the story that can be found within A Symphony of Dragons. You can find this enchanting book of short stories in many outlets in both paperback and eBook or at my publisher BHC Press.

(This is possibly the hardest piece I’ve removed from my blog, as I love it so much, but you can now read it in my short story book: A Symphony of Dragons)

I also won First Place with this piece in the Steampunk genre of Dirty Goggles!