Tag Archives: Steampunk

The Key of Life – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - KeysTime was running out and she knew it.

Alys let her eyelids drop and rested her head on the soft feather pillow. A tear trickled down from the corner of her eye, slowly running down the creases of her skin and into her ear. She smiled wryly at the warm sensation. She relished every sensation her aging body still had, even tears.

Sunlight spilled through semi-closed curtains, muted by the veils of voile that hung from the rail. Dust motes danced in the summer breeze drifting through the high open window.

The sound of birdsong took her back to days gone by, of days when the sun shone, days when she flirted, and teased, and lived ‘til twilight fell and stars glittered in the sky.

Even the subdued rays teasing her window reminded of nights beneath moonlight, nights of passion, nights of love, and nights embraced in warm arms.

Those days, and nights, were long gone, and so were the people who’d inhabited them with her.

Now, she reclined in solitude upon crisp white sheets, soft pillows, and surrounded by the fragrance of orange blossom from the vase upon her night stand. No one visited any longer except nurses, who were dutiful, and friendly, and engaging, but none were family, none mattered beyond the essentials.

Time was waning and Alys was fine with that.

She listened to the whispering breeze curling around the mock orange outside, lifting the scent to join the foliage in her room. Beneath her dry, closed eyelids her eyes itched, and her nose whistled as she breathed. A limp curl of snow-white hair fell across her brow and tickled her furrowed forehead. Her throat rattled, and despite the nurses’ regular attention, her parched mouth gasped.

Alys placed a frail hand on her chest, gently stroking the lace beneath her fingers, then letting her palm rest still. Her heartbeat pulsed, slowly, steadily – like the rhythm of an evening cricket’s chirrup. She knew the time had come.

She pulled lightly at the ribbons holding her nightgown closed, and they slid away from the bow the night nurse had made. Alys drew her nightgown open and exposed her chest. Pale, papery skin threaded with lilac, purple, and blue veins sat across bones that protruded beneath their fragile shroud. Alys reached down towards her heart, feeling gently along her delicate, cool flesh, until her fingers stopped at warm metal.

A weary smile curved her lips, and her fingers smoothed over the bronze metal plate that sat over her heart. She lifted a thin tab and withdrew a small key. The key was intricate, ornate, and truly beautiful, and she held it between her fingers with true reverence and gratitude.

Not everyone had a key, but due to heart failure decades ago, when young children still sat on her lap, she’d been fitted with a bio-mechanical heart. Coronary lockets they called them, with a narrow door and an interior mechanism that worked with biology and clockwork movement.

Alys held her key and brought it to her lips. With unsteady arms she lifted her hands to her head, and carefully slotted the key into the bundle of curls upon the crown of her head. She liked shiny things – and hairpins, decorations, and ornaments adorned the nest of tousled hair caught up in her bun. The nurses would search for the key – but it was hers and there wasn’t another like it – and eventually they’d find it, but time…

She’d outlived everyone she cared about, and now was her time. She placed her hands back upon her chest, closed her eyes, and listened to the birdsong at her window. Orange blossom filled her senses, and her mouth lolled slightly open. Her chest rose and fell, and her heartbeat began to slow. Alys felt the sun roll across her and as its warmth finally dissipated, her heart whirred, and jarred, and stopped.

Alys was finally where she wanted to be.

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Loving the photo prompt for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge over at Finding Clarity.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

 

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A Symphony of Dragons – Short Stories to enchant you…

The first day of Spring sees the release of my new book:
A Symphony of Dragons – a collection of bewitching dragon themed tales…

A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook - Purple Ad lower

I knew when I began my current wip (work in progress) that I wanted to release a book of short stories, for several reasons… First, I wanted to share some of my writing not related to my novels. I’ve been writing flash fiction for quite a few years now, and some of those stories have cried out to be included, along with some previously published works from other anthologies. Secondly, I wanted to revisit my novels; I wanted to write a final story for The Hope Within Novels – a story that takes you back to Freya, Meg, and Jasmine, and explore what they’ve become. I think you’ll love Ruby! And, thirdly, in writing The Seren Stone Chronicles, I wanted to share the Legend of the Seren Stone with you; a teaser…

I chose my theme, Dragons, with ease… I’d already written a dragon tale, I wanted to include, for a Fall Flash Festival contest where I received an Honourable Mention. This story told the tale of Autumn Flamethe dragon who brings you autumn…and I went on to write Winter Hope for another anthology, and then Spring Symphony. Summer had waited, impatiently, but those of you who’ve lingered for Summer Blaze, can now read his story too as he completes the composition.

So, dragons ruled, and you’ll find some familiar stories if you’ve followed my flash fiction and some new:

A Symphony of Dragons © Lisa Shambrook - Cover put together by BHC Press

© Lisa Shambrook – Cover put together by BHC Press

Lose yourself in the enchanting worlds of fantasy, contemporary, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic, and let your imagination soar on a chorus of dragon wings. This lyrical collection of tales embracing change and desire, love and belonging, passion, sacrifice and triumph are composed with gossamer threads of dragon fire.

Seven bewitching stories, including a Hope Within finale and a prelude to the forthcoming Seren Stone Chronicles.

Let the song of dragons lead you…

This book, ephemeral yet beautifully fulfilling, will introduce you to my writing, my style, and my imagination if you haven’t read me before, and will be an enchanting addition to your collection if you have…

The cover painting was a labour of love… I spent December grabbing moments to sketch and paint and see if I could remember my painting skills! I rather fell in love with this dragon and I adore the cover complete with beautifully chosen font by Blue Harvest Creative. Hope you love my dragon too!

A Symphony of Dragons Cover Art Evolution - from sketch to painting to cover © Lisa Shambrook

A Symphony of Dragons Cover Art Evolution – from sketch to painting to cover © Lisa Shambrook

Please visit my updated website lisashambrook.com/books to find all the information and links to purchase. This book is available in print and eBook, and all the purchase links and availability can also be found with my publisher at BHC Press and at books2read.com/symphonydragons

Please remember to add A Symphony of Dragons to your Goodreads Want to Read list and scribble out a reviewyou already know how much I’d appreciate that!

Symphony_Lisa_Shambrook_Ad_Release

Let the song of dragons lead you…

and let me know what you think… ❤

Paroxysm – Steampunk, Passion and Pirates

Pistons, passion, pirates and petulant dragons!
Steampunk Pirates – what more do you need?

Paroxysm - An Anthology of Pirates, Lisa Shambrook, The Anthology Club, Steampunk pistons passion pirates and petulant dragons,

Spring is upon us and signs of passion and renewal everywhere – so I thought I’d share a snippet of my steampunk tale, Paroxysm, found within Cutthroats and Curses the Pirate Anthology from The Anthology Club.

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…

This story and many others will have you hooked – see what I did there?

Cutthroats and Curses, An anthology of Pirates, The Anthology Club,

Cutthroats and Curses

My favourite tale is: Roaring Dan Seavey Proves He Ain’t The Man Some Folk Think Him To Be by Beth Avery, which blew me away!  You’ll have to let me know your favourite, because you’ll definitely have one!

Enjoy the eclectic mix of writing from some amazing authors: Michael Wombat, Lisa Shambrook, Boyd Miles, Marissa Ames, Bryan Taylor, Beth Avery, Matt Jameson, Eric Martell, Michael Walker, Stephen Coltrane, and Alex Brightsmith, there’s something for everyone.

Reel in this intriguing eBook at Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada or any other Amazon near you!

If you read the book and love it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

Cutthroats and Curses…ahoy there!

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’ is now out!

Cutthroats and Curses - An Anthology of Pirates

Cover art by Kit Cooper. Her art is also available to buy!

Featuring eleven great writers: Michael Wombat, Lisa Shambrook (yes, that’s me!), 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: Paroxysm

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…

Pick up this intriguing eBook at Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada or any other Amazon near you!  

Go on, me hearty, put it on your Kindle, or phone, or Ipad – something to read in the sun, or the rain this Summer, depending on where you live!

And, before you landlubbers leave, check out The Anthology Club‘s excellent debut release ‘Soul of the Universe’ with reviews such as:

‘This collection was absolutely breathtaking, and has introduced me to some new genres I wasn’t overly familiar with, and showed the extraordinary range of writing styles that all bring their own meaning to a story.’ – Sorcha

and: ‘Soul of the Universe is a collection of stunning short stories that can leave you smiling, crying or just in a state of wonder.’ – BekahCat

 

Dirty Goggles: His Little Bumblebee

This is for the Dirty Goggles Bloghop 2014 put together by Jenn, Ruth and Steven…I’m jumping straight in with my steampunk story and my little steampunk bumblebee!

Title: His Little Bumblebee
Word Count: 797 Words
Name: Lisa Shambrook @LastKrystallos
Category: Steampunk

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His Little Bumblebee © Lisa Shambrook (All Rights Reserved)

His Little Bumblebee

Professor Mordecai called Ottavia his little bumblebee because her heart hummed. I think he loved her more because her flaw made her real. I love her because her heart sings.

My heart runs as smooth as clockwork, because that’s just what it is, ticking quietly, flawlessly. Every brass nut and bolt, every piston and gear move in perfect unison. Her flaws led to my perfection.

***

Ottavia stared down at our creator’s limp body, her fingers clasping his hand, and my heart fluttered like the professor’s glass-winged dragonflies darting about the gloomy study. Her shoulders slumped and I recalled his last words as I hurried to her side.

“His heart gave out!” I hissed, “I have to get you away before the Regent claims you!”

She ignored me, burying her face in his dusty and worn brocade robes. I had no intention of ever letting the Regent anywhere near enough to listen to the hum of her heart, or even to touch the wiry golden curls that fell around her face. “We have to leave!”

Her hand leaped to her breast and her eyes glistened in the gas-light. “I can’t, not without my key!”

She lifted the ribbon that hung around her neck and its frayed empty ends whispered in the breeze.

A terrible sound echoed down the vast university corridors as the gas-lamps flickered. My heart pounded as I listened to the clickety-clack of a thousand wings. “There’s no time!” I muttered, grabbing her arm.

“I need my key!” she protested, digging into the professor’s pockets.

A horde of mechanical mosquitoes struck the ancient oak door like metal woodpeckers. I peered through the keyhole as wood splintered. “I need to get you to Professor Greenfire, before they destroy the door!” I desperately combed the room as Ottavia scurried about searching for her key. I yanked open the lid of an intricately decorated box revealing a pulsating mass of gold and steel bumblebees. Wings whirred into action as I released them. The tiny bees swarmed through the keyhole and sped into the fray of long legs and tin wings. Sparks flew and metal clattered.

“I’m not even going to make it out of here…” She dropped to the floor with a clatter.

I watched the curve of her breast rise and fall as she stared up at me. I could hear it, the heavy thump, the easing of pistons, the wisps of steam curling from her ribcage beneath her bodice, her mechanism slowing, running down. “I need my key!”

Acrid smoke spiralled through the keyhole as the clangs and clashes of metal echoed. “And there’s no way out up here anyway!” she cried, staring up at me through sparkling topaz eyes.

I whipped her cloak away from her shoulders. “There’s always a way,” I murmured, brushing my fingers over the delicate wire-framed wings protruding from her shoulder joints. I flung open the window. “I sent dragonflies ahead and Greenfire will meet you down by the forest.”

Her brass curls bounced as she shook her head. Her breaths shuddered and jerked as her cogs and gears slowed down.

I tore my key from the string around my neck and thrust it at her.

“It won’t fit!” she smiled. “And even if it did, you can’t live without it.” Her limbs shuddered and her eyes dulled, and desperation echoed inside my clockwork heart.

Our keys didn’t match, but sometimes, as Professor Mordecai once told me, magic happens when love exists. As her breaths faltered and her frame jerked, I untied her corset ribbons and reached up beneath her stays. Her ribs juddered and her heart stopped singing.

My shaking fingers located the keyhole beneath her breast-work but my key wouldn’t fit. I jiggled it delicately, and as my heart began to fail, it slotted right in! I wound it, listening to the barrel click, and watched a pale light fill her eyes once more.

I tied my key to her ribbon.

Her fingers trembled and jolted as they curled around mine and her cut glass eyes shimmered with tears that could not fall.

“Now go…” I listened to the whirring buzz of mechanised insects outside the disintegrating door.

She touched a lever at her waist. Her wings vibrated and her heart sang as she stood upon the windowsill. Morning rays glimmered against her fragmented glass wings, and they fluttered gently as tiny pistons pounded, flywheels spun and gears shifted. Ottavia dived from the window and I leaned across the frame.

She plummeted and my heart slipped into my mouth, and then she swooped and her wings bore her away, away to safety. I smiled as she disappeared behind cotton-wool clouds and automated bugs broke through the door. I still had enough fight left, enough to save my precious bumblebee.

Bumblebee_Last_Krystallos_Dirty_Goggles_2014

© Lisa Shambrook (All Rights Reserved)

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!

 

Family Photoshoot – Steampunk

We like to be different and we like our family portraits to be memorable! They used to be stressful as I desperately tried to get everyone in shot, smiling, still and happy – now we all get involved and make it fun!
We’ve gone for unusual locations like disused railway tracks or a bluebell wood, but never tried dressing up for them, so last year we planned a Steampunk shoot. It was great fun procuring clothes (we were already half-way there style-wise) jewellery and props, and the children delighted in the weaponry (though the swords and daggers are not ours).
Our location was my parent’s old barn and New Year’s Day was blessed with rare, golden sunshine amid our rainy Winter. It was, admittedly, very, very cold and by the end I could not feel my fingers, but we had lots of fun!

All photographs within this post are copyright and
belong to Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use)
Textures used on these photos are Sulfur and Softened Faux

Steampunk Christmas Tree Bauble

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook & Instagram 
(If you use these pictures please link back to this post, thank you.)

Still enjoying a writing hiatus and catching up with some crafting ideas… Rather consumed with Steampunk right now, and wanted a steampunk bauble for the Christmas tree, but couldn’t find one, so made my own:

1. Find (or buy) a single Christmas Bauble. Mine was 49p for 3 at my local garden centre. Stick with gold, silver, chrome, brown or neutral colours.

2. Using tweezers and superglue or another strong glue (Glue gun is too messy) add cogs, gears etc. I bought a small packet of old watch mechanisms for a couple of pounds on Ebay.
3. It helps with precision to place the bauble in an egg cup as you work.
4. Add a ribbon to hang it with.
All Photos by Lisa Shambrook 
(If you use these pictures please link back to this post, thank you)

And there you are, a Steampunk Christmas Tree bauble…

Steampunk Project… Top Hat

My daughters and I are currently collecting Steampunk…for a project. Our fashion sense is pretty Steampunk to begin with, so we’re already halfway there with skirts, military jackets, corsets, jewellery etc, but one thing we didn’t have was a Top Hat.
Pinterest came up with one… Duct Tape Steampunk Top Hat by cutoutandkeep.net and I had a go using this tutorial.

This is my attempt:

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook using Streamzoo Indutrial filter.
(Please do not use without permission)
to be continued…