Tuesday, 31 December 2013

I've Moved...Come, Follow Me...On Wordpress...

It's all new for 2014...

Bekah made herself a new blog over at Adofaer & Arkhdrauth, and it's beautiful...and as I've been using Wordpress with mine and Ruth Long's Shutterworks Photoblog, it only seemed right to follow...

I would love to see you over there, and feel free to follow...

I've migrated my whole blog across, posts, comments and all, so you'll feel quite at home, but with a fresh new atmosphere. 

I wanted something that would fit alongside my new Author website lisashambrook.com ...and this is it!

A new start for a new year.

See you there! 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Composers for Relief: Fighting Back

I am very privileged to take part in Samantha Redstreake Geary's Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines musician/writer collaboration. 28 tracks from gifted composers and stories written by talented authors to accompany each track to produce an album and accompanying eBook. All proceeds go to Gawad Kalinga to support the victims of the Philippines’ worst Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

I chose to write to a gorgeous track called 'Fighting Back' by Dreammaker. Our theme is 'hope' and that's exactly what this track gives me!

Album cover, designed by the talented, Ryo Ishido

Fighting Back 

Aiden stood poised above Eloise, nerves tingling and iron bar in hand. He scanned every dark corner of the dingy scrapyard for danger as she caressed the delicate shell beneath her fingers, softly murmuring spells of protection that he dared not disturb. She smoothed her hands across the silver and white streaked egg, and he desperately fought the urge to touch her alabaster skin.
Far off tyres squealed, engines screamed, and Aiden flinched. He instinctively reached out and grabbed her hand, recoiling as hot white flickers burned his fingers. The iron bar clanked to the ground. 
As pain surged through his scalded fingers he met her eyes with alarm. “We have to go!” he hissed, and she hurriedly placed the egg in her small leather satchel. 
“Sorry,” she whispered, glancing ruefully at his blistered fingers as she slipped her own hands back inside protective leather gloves, “I’m still linked to the egg!”
He shrugged and his pale eyes flashed as they leaped astride his motorcycle. “I was warned not to touch bare skin, when I was assigned you.” 
White sun blazed, glinting and blinding against the warped scrap metal piled high in the yard, and Aiden revved the silver Bandit. He tensed as Eloise wrapped her arms around his waist, and her bare cheek, against his leather jacket, sent heat radiating and pulsing through his shoulder. 
Rubber scorched the tarmac like her skin had burned his…
They burst through the gate pursued by huge bellowing bikes, belching black smog. Fear clutched Aiden’s heart as he twisted the throttle speeding through back alleys, flanked by uniform grey tenement buildings and gunmetal lampposts. Eloise tightened her grip. “Hurry!” she cried. He glanced in the mirror, Eloise’s pale hair streamed wildly behind and the black Triumphs droned, bearing down. 
Aiden felt her heart beat, fast and uncontrolled, through his heavy leathers as they roared out onto the highway. He swiftly wrenched the bike off road and down through trees on a loose gravel track. Ashen trunks towered and their colourless, paper-thin leaves fluttered beneath a grey, cloud daubed sky. Eloise’s dove-grey skirts wrapped tight around her legs as her knees gripped, and her black coat flapped at her hips. Aiden’s heart hammered against his ribs as they bolted through the monochrome terrain. 
The bike disturbed a horde of shrieking birds and Eloise screamed. Aiden fought to retain control of the Bandit as birds burst into flight, flapping wildly before him. He swerved into a thicket of narrow chalky trunks and dappled grey foliage, struggling to remain upright. The bike wobbled and Eloise grasped her faded leather satchel to her chest as he skidded, and the bike careered across the blackened grass. Eloise’s scream echoed throughout Aiden’s head as the bike spun out and they were hurled from the smouldering, throbbing machine.
Aiden rolled and sprang to his feet as rumbling motorbikes rose over the brow of the hill charging towards them. Eloise was already on her feet, her bag still clasped to her chest. “Stay with me!” Aiden yelled running alongside her. 
She caught his eye and stumbled, crying out as a latch on her satchel tore open. The precious egg shot out of her bag. It flew and bounced on gravel and grit, and Eloise flinched as it hit the ground.  “No!” she cried.
A dull thud, as dull as the pallid landscape, rang out as it bounced and fractured. 
Eloise moaned. “Not yet, too soon…”
The menacing, pursuing bikes created an alarming crescendo close by as the marbled white and silver egg rolled and came to a halt. The egg began to ooze and Eloise fell to her knees and wept.  
A dazzling brilliant flash burst from the egg, and as their hands fell from their faces they stared in astonishment as vibrant swirls coiled like steam from the splintered egg. 
The shell shattered and a bird of fire rose from its fragments. 
“Red…” Awe struck Eloise.
Aiden stared in confusion. “Red?”
 She nodded vigorously as the bird rose within a mixture of vibrant shades never before seen. 
“Fire!” cried Eloise, ignoring Aiden’s bewilderment. “Yellow, red and orange!”
The bird’s glorious plumage lit up the forest, and suddenly the grey earth turned to shades Aiden did not recognise and the silver trunks became dark. Aiden’s mouth dropped as foliage suddenly matched Eloise’s glowing eyes, and he grinned as his leathers turned the new shade of dark fire.
“What is this?” he asked in wonder as the bleached landscape warmed as the bird hovered before them.
Aiden flinched as Eloise reached for his hand. “Colour!” she said, “Green and blue, and red and gold…this is colour and this is what I’ve been fighting for!”
Vivid colour seeped out of the egg, staining the ground, and as the bird flapped its resplendent wings, colour exploded into the grey and colourless world. 
Eloise blew a kiss at the fiery bird then flung her arms wide. “Go! Go now phoenix…go and colour the world!”
The bird trilled and fluttered, spiralling up and into the now very blue sky. The grey men on bikes, their mission doomed, hurriedly dispersed, colour chasing their exhaust plumes as the phoenix rose.
Eloise turned to Aiden. “The egg was the last of its kind, and I was charged to protect it, and you to protect me.” Aiden gazed as she again reached for his hand. He winced as she took it and lifted it to her cherry-red lips. “I’m free. I’ll never burn you again…” She kissed his finger tips and fire blazed in his cheeks. She smiled. Eloise leaned in close as the grass in the far meadows turned the same emerald as her eyes, Aiden’s became the colour of the sky, and she finally let her lips touch his. His face flushed red and she whispered. “Now let me colour your world…”

(974 Words) 

Composers for Relief: Supporting the Philippines is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

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 year's 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?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Bad Santa: Santa Sleighn

After some lovely Christmas tales in Tales by the Tree, Ruth over at Bullish Ink has thrown down the gauntlet to tarnish Santa in her third Bad Santa Blog Hop.
So, Santa is hereby tainted...

Santa Sleighn

The newspaper crinkled in his hand, and he shook it out, folding it to the front page story. His eyes skimmed the headline and the photograph, and moved to the story below.  He read, his eyes moving fast over the page then he rested his gaze on the old man in the photo. His blue eyes gazed back, twinkling, even in the grainy black and white newspaper picture. He sighed and leaned back in his sun lounger. 
The pool sparkled as the rising sun spilled fiery rubies into the water and he reached for his tequila.
‘Santa Sleighn: Friendly Fire’ the headline rang inside his head, and he lifted the paper again. 
‘It was no Enchanted Evening this Christmas Eve over the South Pacific, as Santa was struck down by an ATD (automatic targeting defence weapon) over the Ocean. Incidentally, the French are desperately refuting responsibility for the assumed destruction of Santa and his sleigh. Seven of his nine reindeer survived the incident, but both Blitzen and Rudolph are still missing presumed dead, as is old St Nick himself.’

The loss of an icon rocked the entire world grabbing headlines every day for two weeks.  He shook his head and sipped his drink. The wireless crackled and he adjusted the aerial, chinking the ice in his drink as he leaned close.  The tequila mimicked the sunrise and he twirled the cherry on a stick in reflective silence. 

A voice on the radio caught his ear and he listened to the woe of Mrs Claus. She complained bitterly about press intrusion and the final calling off of the search for her husband’s body. She spoke of the wretched disappointment of children across the globe, and the grief in far flung places as well as in Scandinavia. Her voice grated and he could well imagine her brash insistence to search every Polynesian island beach and South America’s entire Western seaboard. He flinched as her voice raised an octave and shrilled through the speaker. He clicked the radio off.

He grunted, brushing a newly manicured hand across his freshly shaven face and stared across the pool at the white villa. He flexed his toes, enjoying the early morning heat that warmed his white mop of wavy hair, and pushed his wire rimmed glasses up his nose. 

Though he was truly grief stricken at the thought of Blitzen and Rudolph lost at sea, he didn’t spare a thought for his wife, or the whining pack of freeloading elves left at home. He’d paid the mercenaries handsomely, and the peace and quiet was well worth the expense. The sea rescue had been hit and miss, a bit choppy, but they’d pulled it off and now Nicholas relaxed in Argentinian splendour.

A barely dressed nymph wandered across the tiles, her hand stroking a well-toned thigh, below a pale blue bikini. He grinned. “Sweetheart, just one thing…the bikini, could you wear the red one instead, with the white fur trim? I’m quite partial to it…”   

(498 Words)

Pop over to Bullish Ink's Bad Santa Contest to read the other entries and sully Santa yourself!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Blues Buster: Heavy in your Arms

So after a hiatus for us to write for NaNo...Jeff's Blues Buster is back over at The Tsuruoka Files. The tune we're writing to is 'Heavy in your Arms' Florence and The Machine...and I'm keen to get back in to some flash fiction!

Water Crown by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)

Heavy in your Arms

The day I drowned, I gazed at his hands and I grasped his arms, strong and veined, and covered with dark, downy hair. His hands were smooth, soft and firm. I gazed into his eyes, ice blue and deep, and I drowned in their depth.   
I gazed at his lips. He drew me close, devouring my mouth with words, whispered words of love, of adoration and lust. I drowned as he pressed his mouth to mine and inched his tongue past my teeth. Fire burned, smouldering in my belly, and rising with every prickle on my pale skin. 
His breath murmured in my hair, his zephyr of longing entwining every lock, and my fingers touched the crown on my head, a circlet of threaded silver and diamond dewdrops. 
His hands, those strong hands, rested on my back, and his lips nibbled my neck, and I succumbed. 

* * *

The sun shone down in rays of gold, tickling my burning skin, and he chuckled at my naivety. He stood and beckoned down by the water’s edge, and blushing in my exposure I stepped into the river. Cool water lapped at my feet and my legs, and I smiled, nervously, as he took my hand. My fingers shot to my head, as the circlet slipped, insecure in my tangled, golden tresses. 
I gazed at him, stood before me, a man in every way, and laughed as the sun glistened against the jewelled crown atop his unruly mop of curls. His laughter matched the gurgling brook, and he took me in his arms, water breaking gently at our waists. 
I didn’t expect his sudden move, his firm grip and the icy fear that enveloped me beneath the water. My eyes were lost in the murky depths of swirling river, weed entwining my feet, and hands, those strong hands, holding me beneath the surface. I opened my mouth in pain as the crown entangled in my hair was divorced from my head. I gripped his arms, my hands moving up and down his flexing muscles, until my hands fell loose and I drowned for the second time that day.
I watched as he waded from the river with tears decorating his face, and my circlet in his fingers.

* * *

Now I watch as he sits upon my throne, as he courts wanton women, and as he rules in my stead. I watch, and I wait. 
My translucent arms, watery and heavy, rest upon his shoulders. His expression betrays him as he raises his hand, to wipe a stray raindrop, but no rain has fallen.  Fear grips as he travels the castle corridors and beholds puddles on the floor. His smooth hands touch the crown upon his head, and the gold feels like iron, cold and heavy, like the ice that decorates his bedroom, bringing impotence and dread. 
He slips silently into madness in his sun drenched palace. 
I chill his soul with every step, binding him to my heavy heart, until his crown is frozen, his hands are soaked with my pain, and his feet are burdened with dread. 
Then when fear grips in the dead of night, when darkness abounds and seizes his mind, I drown him…I drown him in his own nightmares…

* * *

Now he floats to me, on a river of heavenly light, and I beckon. He moves on my zephyr of breath, and he smiles as I gaze, and I blush. Relief and arrogance bloom on his cheeks as he dances forward, free of his watery incubus. I promise much, but I never deliver, and I thrust him away, down, back down into his heavy body, on a cold, wet bed.  His arms flail and his hands, those strong hands, beg…
And I drown him, every night…

(632 Words)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

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 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Oceanswept Chronicles: Lara Hays

Swashbuckling pirates and romance on the high seas...

I’ve recently had the pleasure of discovering ‘Oceanswept’ by Lara Hays…I’m just a short way in and I’m hooked, so it’s lovely to have the opportunity to find out more about the author behind the book, and get some fascinating insights into pirate life!

‘Oceanswept’  and its companion short story ‘Intruder in the Brig’ is the first book in the ‘Oceanswept Chronicles’ followed by the recently released ‘Undertow’ and its companion ‘Stowaway’. (Both short stories also available to buy.)

How long have you been writing, and when did you begin to realise your dream of becoming an author?
I have been writing as long as I can remember. I still have the first story I ever wrote: a crayon-written story about two dinosaurs in love separated by a volcano. It was even a chapter book. I was probably about six when I wrote it. I wrote constantly throughout my life, starting many unfinished novels. I had short stories and poetry published as a teen. Looking back on my life, I’ve realized that even if I wasn’t writing, I was always storytelling. I was very involved in theatre, journalism, and even as a child the way I played was always about telling stories.
I currently work as a copywriter for an international wellness company. I feel so blessed to write for a living and get paid salary with benefits. I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, though. Oceanswept was the first novel I ever completed. I finished it in 2007 and buried it away but I couldn’t forget it and after five years, I decided to dust it off and publish it.

‘Oceanswept Chronicles’ follow pirates, and romance, and life on the high seas, can you tell us what inspired you to dip into this genre?
When I wrote Oceanswept in 2007, I began watching the market and trying to play into what the industry was doing. 2007 was all about paranormal romances—especially vampires. I toyed with the idea of jumping on the bandwagon, but ultimately decided I should write something I believed in passionately rather than “play the market.”
There is something self-indulgent about this story for me. I truly went about writing a book I would love to read. I love the young adult genre, I love history, I love the ocean and sailing (thanks to a few amazing historical novels like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi), and I love romance and adventure.
But interestingly enough, I think the elements that drew readers to vampire romances are all here: star-crossed lovers, a dangerous hero, a bold heroine, mortal peril, and redemption and hope for a better future.

Have you enjoyed researching 18th century life on the ocean, could you have coped with life in those days?
I love history and so book research is something I love to do. I’ve had a few hiccups though. I initially intended to set the story about 30 years earlier (1690s) than its current time frame of about 1720, but had difficulty with research materials. By moving the setting back a few decades, I had a lot more resources.
Researching pirates has its own challenges. Aside from a few journals of the time period, there aren’t a lot of reliable first-hand accounts of life among pirates. Our current stereotypes come from romanticized literature that concocted pirate jargon, attitudes, and practices that probably did not exist. Walking the plank probably never happened and pirates likely didn’t say “shiver me timers.” Our modern view of them is still very romantic when in reality they should probably be compared to terrorists and inner city gangs.
Coping with life in the 1720s...I wouldn’t deal well with the lack of wifi.  I would struggle with the role of women in society. Hygiene as well. All this historical love stories are very romantic as long as we don’t think too much about their personal hygiene. I’ve gone to a few book clubs that have read Oceanswept and women always bring up menstruation, which I find an odd thing to fixate on but apparently it’s universal. In the books, Tessa spends months at a time on board ships. People want to know how she dealt with her period. Apparently that is a concern for us modern women used to our modern conveniences, but for Tessa, it was a part of her life as mundane as keeping her fingernails clean.

What can we look forward to after ‘Undertow?
I have two books in the works right now. One is an adult fiction piece that follows the emotional journey of two women on different spectrums of the adoption world and the unconditional love for a child that unites them. As an adoptive mother, this book is very personal to me and my own experiences with infertility and adoption have colored the tale.
I am currently working on a book called The Immortality Project about a teen boy who befriends a dying teenager and commits himself to finding a cure. After I write the first draft, I am involving another author. I think it will be fun to work with someone else and will free up my time to get started on…
The final book in the Oceanswept Trilogy. I have it fully outlined…I need to get some other things off my plate so I can jump in! I miss my characters already and I’m excited to get back to them.
And you can expect more Oceanswept Chronicles along the way.

Share one positive thing that writing does for you.
Writing is therapy. It helps me examine my own life and my own emotions while creating deeper empathy for others. Writing helps me process the emotions behind my infertility struggles and adoptions, my mother’s unexpected death, or even just a bad day at work or an argument at home. It’s definitely therapeutic—and cheaper!

Oceanswept: amazon.co.uk     amazon.com
Undertow: amazon.co.uk     amazon.com
Intruder in the Brig: amazon.co.uk     amazon.com
Stowaway: amazon.co.uk     amazon.com

The sway of playful palm trees and never-ending sunshine seem like a fantasy compared to the smog and filth of 18th century London. Thrilled for a new life in the exotic West Indies, privileged seventeen-year-old Tessa Monroe eagerly embraces her father’s reassignment to the fledgling Caribbean colony of St. Kitts where she can stake her claim as an up-and-coming socialite. 
But that dream unravels when a hurricane downs their ship on the passage from England, leaving Tessa as the sole survivor. Rescued by a passing ship, Tessa’s grief soon turns to terror as she realizes she isn’t a passenger—she’s a captive. 
With a future of slavery in the offing, Tessa joins forces with Nicholas Holladay, a charismatic sailor ready to break free from a life of piracy. Mutiny is in the air. Tessa and Nicholas will either win their freedom or earn a spot at the gallows.

Find more information about Lara Hays at larahays.com
and follow on Facebook facebook.com/LaraHaysAuthor