desk writing novel author Lorraine Ambers

Top 5 things I need to write

I’ve spent the past week learning new payroll software, filing VAT returns, writing GDPR policies for my 3 businesses and redeveloping the website for my welding and fabrication business. YAWN!

During that time I’ve missed writing. And yes, my sanity has suffered for it. I’m amazed to discover that even editing my MS helps my anxiety and stops me from plummeting into depression. And the more of my blogging community I discover and supportive you all are, the less embarrassed I am about my Complex PTSD.

Alice in Wonderland. Have I gone Mad?
Image from Pinterest.

So, without further ado here are my top 5 writing essentials I need for working on my WIP.

  1. Tea and lots of it. A good old fashioned mug of builder’s brew and the stronger the better.
  2. Peace and quiet. I can’t write with people around and I don’t have the luxury of an office or even a desk. As there’s just no room in my bungalow. And so I’ve commandeered the dining room table, it’s home to an extension lead, work files, lots of USB sticks, many notebooks and two laptops. One has an antiglare screen for working on my MS and the other has all the tedious software for running the other businesses.
  3. Music. I know I just said peace and quiet – I guess I meant people. I usually play the radio or music channel. Anything with upbeat tunes. I use it as a motivator and a way to cancel out the unnecessary chatter of my mind. It focuses me. I’m listening to Coldplay’s – In a sky full of stars. I get to channel my voice through words, while dancing in my seat. Life doesn’t get any better than this.
  4. My dog. Pulling my attention away from my laptop and getting out in the fresh air is essential. It recharges my batteries and increases my creativity. Yes, I moan about taking my beagle Dexter out, but I always feel better for it. Particularly if I head to the beach or take a river walk.
  5. Lastly, but most importantly is a functioning mind. I skirt a fine line between holding it together and tumbling into despair. And I can’t write when I’m depressed. While it’s not my fault I have psychological wounds or that I’m regularly triggered. Staying on top of the things that help me, is in my control. Things like, exercise, meditation, writing and therapy.

And I’m going to add a 6th. A cat because it’s finally time to bring another one into my life after losing Jasper. While I still hope he returns home, it’s been 8 months and this writer needs a kitten.

And so, there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a sneak peek into my life. What’s your number one writing need. Share it with me, as I love reading about you too.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer Novel

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Blurb

Cinder by Marissa Meyer NovelA forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.


I love the idea of a fairy-tale retelling and the stories original take on the story was intreiging. I thought it was fantastic that Cinder and one of the sisters had a geniune bond. this added depth the complexety of the families situations.


Review

I award this novel 3.5/5 stars

From the first chapter we’re introduced to the concept of the deadly virus, the prince’s determination to find a solution, Cinder’s difficulties as a cyborg and the prejudices she faces. I was instantly hooked.

I loved the clever twist on the shoe that only fits her and how that played a part in the final scenes.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I was shocked to discover the existence of a lunar race and how they impacted the story. Yes, the set is called The Lunar Chronicles so I should have anticipated it. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but played a huge role in the story. Perhaps I missed a vital bit of foreshadowing in the first chapter, there was already a lot going on.

The city of New Beijing was incredibly detailed; it was full, vibrant, noisy, chaotic, and hot. It would be a nightmare destination for someone like me. Give me an empty beach in the middle of winter and I’m happy. That being said, the palace with its cherry blossom trees and lanterns was beautifully detailed.

Cinder’s and Kai’s blooming relationship was believable and engaging. I was eager to read their story and how they’d eventually get together.

Queen Lavana was a flat character, hell bent on world domination. She’s already overthrown her own predecessor and now wants planet earth. But why? Being evil and desiring power was all I got from her.

I’d already read and reviewed Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I had great expectations for this novel. Unfortunately, the story’s ending was a huge let down. Romance novels have a certain expectation, but Cinder and the prince did not get together. I understand it’s a hook for the rest of the series, but not fulfilling a stories plot is one of my pet peeves. Romantic involvement or romantic sacrifice is a must. It annoyed me so much that I’m considering boycotting the rest of the series. Hence the low rating.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

As always, thanks for reading.

Have you read the rest of the series? Is it worthwhile continuing?

I love your comments, so please tell me what you thought of the book.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
Novel Story Worldbuilding Fantasy

Whats your favourite pitch? #PitMad

Calling all writers ready for pitching and all book bloggers – help me pick a pitch.

The first #PitMad event of the year, hosted by @pitchwars, is coming up soon! June 7th kicks off the first round at 8am – 8pm EDT. Stay up to date on events by following @pitchwars on Twitter or by checking out the #PitMad page at pitchwars.org/pitmad. For more information about the event head over to www.polishandpitch.com

So what is #PitMad exactly?

Well polish and pitch say: #PitMad is a Twitter hashtag event used by agents and unsigned authors alike with the goal of connecting the two. During the event, unagented writers are invited to share their story pitch via tweet with the #PitMad tag. Agents will be spending the day reading tweets with these tags, “liking”… the tweets that they are interested in and eager to receive further material from. Best case scenario, an agent likes your tweet, loves your additional material, and then offers you a contract!

valkyrie_3_by_lamuserie-Fantasy-Writer-Lorraine-Ambers
Artwork attributed to LaMuserie http://www.lamuserie.net

1. Lovesick, princess Alysia escapes the siege, when her coveted guard Sander, becomes fatally wounded. She must choose between saving his life, fearing he’s involved in the massacre or focus on rescuing her father, the King.

2. Sheltered princess Alysia bargains with a magician to save her beloveds life, knowing any vows made will have powerfully binding consequences for her kingdom.

3. Lovesick, imposter, guard Sander must choose to reveal his identity to his coveted princess or risk his magician brother capturing her to steal her powers and kingdom.

4. Telepathic princess Alysia’s kingdom is overthrown but she escapes. Should she sacrifice her freedom & powers to save the king or rule in his stead?

5. Princess Alysia’s kingdom is overthrown. Should she sacrifice herself to save her realm or place her trust in a deceitful guard, knowing his magician brother is responsible?

6. Guard Sander’s identity is jeopardised when the place is conquered. Should he unite with his brother, the one responsible for the attack, or defeat him to save his secret love the princess.

Ok guys, there you have it. I can use three variations to help me hook an agents interest.

What are your favourites?

I need your help.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

 

 

Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

Query writing tips

I’ve been stuck in the query trenches for a long time. I’m determined to be represented by an agent and my perseverance has taken me on quite a journey. My next step is to submit to American agents. I’m finding this process similar yet different. Let me explain.

Unlike British agents who ask for a synopsis of one page. Agents in America tend to allow 3-5 pages. Meaning on top of revealing the plot, character arcs can be shown. Read my post How to Write a Synopsis for more details.

paper pen writing novel author fantasy Lorraine Ambers

Agents in America will only ask for a partial or full manuscript based on the query. Some agents ask for the first five pages of your novel, perhaps the first chapter – but no more. It’s a great way to ensure that writers utilise every word in a concise and intriguing way.

The query pitch has a slightly different format too. Over at Query Shark, hundreds of queries are critiqued by willing participants. The agent’s comments are brutal but honest. By reading through examples you can learn the best way to introduce your main character, how to reveal the stakes and let the reader  care. Of course, it goes without saying, a great hook is universal. And knowing your premise is the first place to start.

I highly recommend my fellow writers to take a look. Even if you’re planning to self-publish, the tips are helpful for blurbs too – the writing on the back cover of a novel that entices readers to by your book.

Happy writing fellow authors.

Remember, for dreams to work – you must too.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
Book Petals Love Writing Novel Author Lorraine Ambers

Review: Six of Crows

Blurb

Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoCriminal prodigy Kaz Brekker is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams – but he can’t pull it off alone.

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist.

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction – if they don’t kill each other first.


I award this novel 5/5 stars

My review

This story combined the cunning antics of Peaky Blinders with the extraordinary world building of Game of Thrones.

I was blown away by each of the characters, enthralled by their lives and how they all came to be entangled in such an elaborate heist. I hadn’t read the prior Grisha trilogy, and that didn’t affect the story. But I regret it, simply because the story was outstanding and it is obviously a crime not to dive into Leigh Bardugo’s world.

The world building was rich, colourful and diverse. Effortlessly spanning continents, with its culture hinted at through the characters. And let’s not forget the unique magic system, whereby individuals are capable of manipulating matter.

This novel seamlessly covers diversity; it’s about the characters, not their race or preferences. And each character was memorable and loved. With their own complex histories, goals and aspirations. Plus I got the anticipation of two, possibly three blossoming romances.

I had no idea how they were going to navigate any of the dilemmas and I certainly couldn’t predict the outcome of the story. Leigh Bardugo, you legend. I think I’ve found my next big author crush.

Without any spoilers: the ending blew my mind. I usually hate cliff-hangers, but all the plots were sown together. I felt satisfied by the direction of the character’s lives and ready to embrace the next adventure. So instead of throwing the book across the room, I immediately ordered The Crooked Kingdom.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

Tell me, are you a fan of Leigh Bardugo? And what did you think of Six of Crows?Thanks for reading folks, see you soon. 🙂

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

 

paper pen writing novel author fantasy Lorraine Ambers

Discovering my story’s premise

Every story has a beating heat. And though every story has been written before, it has not been written by you. Therefore, each story takes on a unique premise. Now I’ve hear this a million times, but honestly I’ve only just grasped the concept. The importance of hooking readers with the premise, by either immediately revealing it or by sowing the seeds throughout the opening pages. Allowing the premises butterfly effect to ripple through your story.

If you like, it’s the first building block of your story. I thought I knew my story. I thought I’d nailed my hook. I was wrong.

YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers Desk

If you’re struggling to identify your premise, then read this great post on: How to Find Exactly the Right Story Hook by Helping Writers Become Authors. It’s written eloquently with great examples. Honestly K.M Weiland is my go to bible for writing tips.

I didn’t know this until I sent my submission package to a literary agent to be critiqued. A service Writers & Artists provide. I’d come to a dead end with my first MS. It has been rejected by 30 agents with no feedback. It was either shelve it and focus on my second novel, or give it one last attempt. And I’m not a quitter.

Debut Novel NA fantasy Author Lorraine Ambers Beta Reader

So I took a bold move and opened myself up to feedback from Sallyanne Sweeney from MMB Creative. She taught me a valuable lesson about the first few chapters. I hadn’t introduced the premise. I hadn’t introduced my hook. Therefore, I hadn’t rewarded my readers with the foreshadowed inciting moment. Which also came in too late, chapters 4 and 5. Huge mistake!

I had opened with a fast paced scene believing that was the premise. Wrong. It was simply the first domino effect of my story. Then my story floundered to world build, without teasing the reader with my premise. Therefore the story lacked enough tension to drive the plot forward to the all-important inciting moment. The protagonists call to adventure.

Now, I knew what was coming… but my readers had no clue…. worse still, they might have given up and put the book down.

Once I discovered my premise, the revisions came easily. And now the antagonist, the conflict and goal are easily identified within the first few paragraphs. And my story is much stronger for it.

Thanks for reading and best of luck with your WIP. Remember, failure is proof that you’re trying. Don’t ever be afraid to grow and learn. 🙂

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

 

 

When You Feel Like Crap, And What To Do About It

Having a bad day? Maybe like me, you need a swift moral boost to get you back on track. Read this fantastic post by Josiah, it’s sure to set the ball rolling in the right direction.

SKYLARITY

The Mindfullness Show is back for another season. In this season (Season 2), we will be discussing the hottest topics relating to pop culture and news around the world. You can listen here or over here

You are vertical and ventilating, but you still feel like crap. Every success initiative you employ seems to flop. Your dreams and goals appear to be out of reach, and you’re no longer enjoying life as you once did. Even the universe itself seems to be conspiring against you. 

So how do you get yourself out of the shitty mood and get back on the path to success?

Start your day with positive affirmations. Make it a habit to avoid thoughts or conversations that undermine your dreams. Do not give power and energy to negativity or anything that will deplete your mental strength. Instead, you ought to retrain your focus on motivating energy. Do…

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Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

5 tips for overcoming doubt

Sometimes we are our own harshest critique. I’ll never be good enough. I’m not successful. Or popular, clever, talented…

We’re all aware of the horrendous things people say, but ignore or enforce the ones we say to ourselves. How would you feel if a stranger said your writing was crap? Seriously, how? Hurt. Angry. Crushed. And yet when we say those same things to ourselves, about our own writing, we allow it. Even back it up with reasons why it’s rubbish.

If only we were taught as children to see the best in ourselves. To see failure as progress. And to problem solve our doubts away.

I think we’d take that nagging critical voice and lock it in a cupboard. Or we’d shout back at that voice: How dare you speak to me like that. I deserve more respect. I’ve worked tirelessly on my writing and I will continue to improve.

Now that’s a world I’d like to live in.

Key to success Author Lorraine Ambers fantasy writer

Here are my top five tips on beating doubt and crushing that nagging internal voice. Because we can, and we will succeed.

1. Realisation. When we pay attention to doubt we can stop it dead in its tracks. I don’t mean get out your pompoms and cheer along with it. I mean, pay attention to the times it kicks in. Acknowledge it and then kick it to the curb. The next time your inner critic starts shouting, try visualising a giant red stop sign.

2. Write a list of all of your accomplishments and what makes you great. I bet being creative comes to mind, because creative folks tend to struggle with self-doubt. But that’s ok, find the positive and jot it down. From being a great listener to passing your driving test, or finishing the first draft of a novel. Be proud of the small and major things that define your life and who you are. The next time doubt comes calling take a look at your list and remind yourself of how great you are.

3. Inspirational quotes. Not only are they great pick-me-ups, but they also make us realise that everyone struggles with similar issues. We are not alone in our doubts, but we can overcome them. So pop over to Pinterest and find your favourites. Try printing some out and pinning them on the wall by your desk, or saving one as your home screen. Let the positive words shine brighter than the negative.

i-relieve-stress-by-taking-deep-breaths-of-my-wine-glass

4. Take some time to relax and unwind. When I burnout, I crumble. Therefore learning to stop before stress becomes a major factor is important. Equally important is to give yourself a break, if you do burnout, that’s ok too. Forgive yourself, Love yourself and take a dame break. The housework, your MS and the 101 other things that are building up will all be there tomorrow. I grant you permission to eat chocolate, watch Netflix and hug a pet or pillow.

5. Set goals and work towards them. Bite-size steps give us attainable and realistic expectations. Make them too big and we give up with the knowledge that we we’re right. We’ll never amount to anything. And that’s not what we want. But chop your dream into tiny pieces and celebrate each small success is how we can achieve even the largest dream. Maybe it’s to write 500 words per day, or join a creative writing class, or send your work to a beta reader. Whatever the step: it’s you building upon your dream and making it a reality.

So take that doubt. We’re crushing you and working our way up the success ladder.

I hope you found my tips helpful. I’m sure there are many ways to overcome doubt, why don’t you share some of your tips with me. Thanks for reading.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers review

Rapid fire book tag

I saw this tag over at bookswithbain. She writes fantastic book reviews and always has fun tags on the go. So pop over to her site.


E-Book or Physical Book?

A physical book. Nothing beats turning pages and holding a gorgeous cover in your hands. Plus I’m building up my bookcase. It would look dull with just my kindle on it.


Paperback or Hardback?

Either, I’m not fussy a book is still a book and that’s a great thing.


Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online, I think I’m the only bookworm in the world that gets overwhelmed in book stores.


Trilogies or Series?

As long as it’s well written and still enticing, I’m happy with either. So keep them coming fellow authors.


Heroes or Villains?

Oh this is tough, of course i love the hero, but nothing is more exciting than a despicable character that turns to the good side. That inner conflict is fantastic to read.


A book you want everyone to read?

I recommend reading ACOTAR series because A Court of Mist and Fury is my all time favourite. Closely followed by the superb novel The Night Circus.


Recommend an underrated book?

The PNR series Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole. I enjoyed the series more than Lords of the Underworld or  Black Dagger Brotherhood.


The last book you bought?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, I’m blown away by her work. Why haven’t I read any of her other stuff???


Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark?

I use anything close to hand, pens, receipts, actual bookmarks or keep the book open but turn it upside down.


Used Books: Yes or No?

I love a great bargain, so long as the books in a tidy condition.


Top three favourite genres?

YA, NA or adult Fantasy, Paranormal romance, Contemporary romance.


Borrow or Buy?

Both. My best friend has a better collection than me. And now that I’m building mine, we swap. 🙂


 Characters or Plot?

Characters, but both are important for a great book.


Long or Short Books?

Short books. I’m a slow reader. But if I’m excited about a story, length isn’t really a concern.


Long or Short Chapters?

I get quite excited by a short chapter, starting a new one feels like success.


Name the first three books you can think of

Heartless, Caraval and The Hunger Games


Books that make you laugh or cry?

Either. But my heart racing with anticipation is far better.


Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Fictional!!!


Audio books: Yes or No?

Not for me. I don’t absorb the story properly.


Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

Absolutely, every single time.


A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

The Magicians. The TV-show played around with plot and characters, making it far more satisfying.


Series or Standalones?

Series. Once I become attached to a character, I follow them to the end.


 I tag anyone who fancies a go. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Blurb

The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackOf course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal.

As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong.

But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan . . .


I award this Novel 5/5 Stars.

Oh my, where to start. This novel has appeared everywhere. Scattered across the blogging community and plastered over Instagram. Mine included, so I delved in. In part because of the hype, but also because The Cruel Prince is my favourite genre YA fantasy/romance.

Prince Cardan and his fae friends are spiteful and vindictive at the best of times, but to the mortals residing in their realms they are merciless. Twin Jude has played the long subservient game. Until she realises they will never stop. Refusing to bow to them any longer, she promises to humiliate Cardan by never backing down.

From the first page, I was gripped. Each chapter engaged my attention and enticed me further into the well developed world of the fae. Elfhame is rich, full of depth and beautiful. A contradiction to the fae themselves.

I loved the dynamics of Jude’s fae family. All of whom, had their own secrets and agendas. . I loved Jude’s defiant attitude, her burning anger that pushes her to become great in a ruthless world.

Locke and Jude’s romance seemed too good to be true, and even though Cardan was the villain I loved to hate, I longed for the romance to be between him and Jude. Their developing relationship was pure dynamite. Perilous, dark and twisted. And not what I anticipated, the whole novel was a glorious surprise. And the story turned out all the more delicious for it.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

As always, thanks for reading. Have you finished The Cruel Prince? If so, what did you think? Or do you have any sugesstions of similar novels? Share them with me!!!

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.