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Top 3 Blogging tips

It’s my 2 year anniversary this week. Yay!!!

I’m so grateful to all my followers and readers. I’m truly humbled by this fantastic community. You’re all supportive, encouraging and willing to connect. And that’s a big deal for me. I adore being an author, spending hours at a time immersed in my imagination, but it’s vital for my sanity to know that you guys are just a few clicks away.

Thank you message in a bottle

Here are my top 3 blogging tips that have helped on my journey so far…

  1. Consistency. Be realistic with how often you can post. It’s all well and good having the intention of posting 3 times a week, but if life gets in the way blogging will be the first thing to slip. So be honest about how much time you can dedicate. I knew that after family and work commitments my writing came next. That’s why I choose to post once a week and its been maintainable. It’s also been rewarding, beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve made some great friends like Ari Meghlen. Her blog is full of writing, blogging and platform building tips. Check her out.

2. Connect.  This is a two-way network. So reach out to fellow bloggers. Read their posts and leave a comment, its more personal than simply liking a post. Although I love it when anyone clicks on the little star.

This week I’ve found two new beta readers K.M. Allen and Uninspired writers.  Ladies, welcome to my realm. Take a look at their fantasic blogs full of writing tips.

3. Schedule posts. This tip is for me too. I really need to take my own advice. Organise post in advance. That way when something unexpected crops up, you’re covered. It’s easy to do: Open post settings. Under Status, click on the arrow next to Publish Immediately and a calendar opens up. Then you can set a date and time. When you’re happy with your choice hit the blue Schedule button and you’re all set.

Alternatively, why not re-blog one of your fellow bloggers posts. It’s a great way to stay consistent with your blog and helps to build connections with your bloggers.

Do you have any great tips to share? Let me know in the comments, you know I love to hear from you. Till next time, Much Love. Xx

 

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
love pen book tea - Author Lorraine Ambers fantasy writer

Reality of being a writer

I’m a huge fan of positivity posts. Who doesn’t need a daily dose of inspiration? Pushing us to work towards our goals and chase our dreams. But sometimes it’s good to take a breath and check in with reality. To realise that our struggles don’t define us, but they do make us human.

Being a writer or any artist is tough. Don’t get me wrong, there are many perks. Take today for instance; I’m sitting in bed with my dog, listening to music, whilst drinking tea and blogging. But it’s not all glamorous: In fact, I’m not sure any of it is???

Today I thought I’d share the harsh reality of what being a writer is like for me. To let you know; you’re not alone in your fight. And that acknowledging our struggles doesn’t make us weak, it makes us honest. Maybe even a little enlightened.

Author self-doubt tumblr_nxeot3aztf1rj0hrio1_500
Credit: tumblr_nxeot3aztf1rj0hrio1_500

First of all: Shoat out to all working-student writers. Hurrah to us, juggling a full time job/course with other commitments, housework, family  and all the pressures life brings is usually enough for mere mortals. We’ve chosen to spend a dedicated amount of time and resources to building platforms, managing social media and actually writing a novel… or two. Congratulations, did you know roughly 80% of people dream of writing a novel but only a small percentage achieve this.

Next it’s a huge shoat out to writer parents. Whoop! Whether your children are young and need constant attention. Tantrums, potty training, endless kid parties and squabbling siblings. Where we need eyes in the back of our heads. Or older darlings: full of hormone melt downs, teenage dramas, social media mine-fields, confrontations over boundaries, boyfriend/girlfriend worries and … still squabbling siblings. And that’s all dealt with in a morning.

When do we get to write? How do we fit it in? But as we writers know… where there’s a will, and often a desperate need for sanity, there’s a way.

Writer Author Cat

Social life advocates: Bravo! I’m beginning to wonder if this is a rare breed of writer, because if you’re juggling either of the above, or like me – both, and you still have a successful social life: I’m wondering, do you only need two hours of sleep???

I’d love to go out for dinner with friends, meet the girls for coffee, fit in my yoga class, maybe take up tai chi too and attend creative writing class. But I wrestle to fit in all the other non-social stuff. Write. Walk my beagle. Read and read more. Blog. Fill cupboards with food, cook bloody food, clean dishes… You know the drill. You’re in it too. It’s an endless cycle of mundaneness, just to stay at base level. Tedious, repetitive and frustrating, doesn’t even begin to cover it.

To avoid these things is to ‘Attempt’ to change absolute reality, which will inevitably do more harm than good, internally speaking. (Internally = your mind and soul) Realise this is how life is and no longer will it disturb you, you can feel free. ‘Life is suffering’ – Budda

And there we have it. Life. Reality. Honest and raw. Be proud of who you are and the choices you make, because you’re unique and awesome. Take a moment to reflect on you’re journey and feel free to add a comment, sharing a little of it 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.
THE WITCH'S KISS, YA, YOUNG ADULT, FANTASY, FAIRY-TALE, ROMANCE

Review: The Witch’s Kiss

Hi everyone, I’m back with another review, this one is a young adult, fantasy/ romance novel. My favourite genre – it should be, I write it. The book was written by sister’s Elizabeth and Katherine Corr, an intriguing collaboration. I have to say; I love the cover, it’s a great addition to my Instagram #bibliophile feed.

 Blurb

Novel The Witch's Kiss Young Adult Fantasy Romance

 

Sixteen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse.

Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?

 


I rate this novel 3.5 star out of 5

Meredith or Marry as she likes to be known is a teenager with untrained powers that she’s misused and abused. What Marry doesn’t know about is the curse she’s inherited.

Things are happening in the once quiet town of Tillingham. The streets are no longer safe, people are been attacked and it’s only a matter of time before someone’s killed.

For Gwydion the magician and his King of Hearts slumber under the lake. But their curse has started to wear off. The Saxon witch’s couldn’t defeat them; instead they enchanted them to sleep until a strong witch was born. A witch who’d finally end Gwydion’s reign of terror.

Book Petals Love Writing Novel Author Lorraine Ambers

What I liked.

I liked Merry’s older brother Leo, he was protective and a great ally throughout the story. He made a warm, loving companion. I loved the introduction to Jake. At first through her dreams and the thrilling way they met. To begin with, Merry fought the curse and her powers, they frightened her. It allowed her character to be pulled through the unthinkable. To emerge stronger on the other side, it was realistic and well timed.

The authors wove in several fairy-tales throughout the novel, but created a unique storyline and characters. The backstory of the Saxon witches and how Gwydion came to be so evil, added depth to the story. I became completely engrossed in those sections of the book. Immersed in life at the castle, the little farming village, and Meredith’s Saxon hut with the rough ground and flickering fire. Those scenes were vivid with great pacing and plot.

I anticipated the ending to be predictable but the outcome was not what I’d anticipated. It climaxed in a cinematic way, with both Merry and Leo committed to helping each other.

Debut Novel NA fantasy Author Lorraine Ambers Beta Reader

What I did not like.

I found it frustrating that Leo had no powers. The witch clan dismissed him because he was male, without apology or explanation. Why couldn’t he have powers? Especially as, besides Merry, he was the only other person able to read the scroll.

The pace of the story slowed right down in the middle. The pattern became repetitive and slow with Merry and Leo meeting Jake at the lake, and stopping the King of Hearts. The writing became more telling than showing. I found it hard to immerse myself into their world. It made me wonder about the author’s collaboration, because I got the distinct impression that certain areas of the book was better written.

The mum was neglectful and cold, I took an instant dislike to her and was unwilling to warm again when she was given the opportunity to explain and reform herself. Boo!

Jake and Marry started off so well but fizzled out like a poorly lit bonfire. I wanted more from Jake and Merry relationship. I was underwhelmed. Somehow the reader is supposed to believe they love each other. When did that happen? Yes, Marry is fond of him. Obviously has a giant crush on him, but I didn’t witness any development of something more.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

Over all, I’m glad that I persisted with the novel, because truth be told, I almost gave up. Great for fans of Young Adult, fantasy’s based around myth and fairy-tales, with romance that doesn’t always end happily-ever-after.

Thanks for reading. Have you read the Witch’s Kiss? What did you think of the novel?

 

pexel present christmas hot chocolate pine cones

Favourite Christmas Traditions

I adore the magic of Christmas. The twinkling lights, the scent of pine needles and mulled wine. The opportunity to embrace all that I’m grateful for. Let me shine a light on some of the things that bring this wonderful season to life.

Snow Snowmen Christmas

I love the idea of snow. To wrap up in thermal socks, gloves and a woollen scarf. Then head out with my children for a snow fight or to build a snowman. IF it snows, it rarely settles in my coastal town due to the salty air. Plus the reality is very different from the rosy nostalgia of my childhood. The wind bites my cheeks and my toes turn painfully cold. With soggy mittens I head back indoors, proving that my first favourite tradition is and always will be my home.

My second favourite tradition is family and friends. This year’s a stepping stone into a new era. It’s the twentieth Christmas without my mum. Since she passed away I’ve tried to provide an inviting, homely Christmas for my brother and sister. Along with the addition of my husband, two children and a lazy beagle. Recently I’ve severed relations with my toxic father, though he’s never had a roll in my festive cellebrations, the choice still lay heavy on my heart. Until I realised that I have always been the support system in my family. Nothing has changed. Except for the growth of self-respect and a new found empowerment that I had not expected to feel. I’m grateful for my family, the ones who love and respect each other. Whether blood related or not, they are the ones I bind my faith, and love in.

pexels-candy cane-hot chocolate

Finally my Christmas tree decorations. Not the process of dressing the bloody thing. That is a stressful event, fraught with nit picking and despair – that’s me – my kids insist on dressing the tree. Which is fine, I just rearrange the babbles when no one’s watching. My favourite tradition is the decorations themselves. It started after the birth of my daughter; I purchased a white rocking horse with babies first Christmas written across the flank. The collection has grown to include a Disney Stich wearing a Santa suit, a second rocking horse after the birth of my son, inherited glass Christmas trees from my nan, a selection of stars, reindeer and candy canes chosen by my children as they grew. I admit that I hide the garish green and red star at the back of the tree. Yet each one has a happy family memory, proving that negative family patterns can be changed. My safe, healthy family is proof of a better life.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

I wish you all a very merry Christmas, full of magical memories, filled with laughter and love. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share your favourite traditions with me.

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
Lorraine Ambers Writer cat

Crazy Cat Lady

 

Missing cat,

Jasper’s been lost since bonfire night. I’m convinced the fireworks scared him into hiding.

Day three of missing Jasper: I’d implemented the street search for kitty. I took my beagle and traipsed the housing estate, fields and Jasper’s general hangouts. The vet’s had been checked and my neighbours were on the lookout.

Day Five: Driving the kids to school, I spotted a black cat. I approached with caution and picked him up. He looked terrified, and his jet black fur had turned slightly auburn. Did the sun do that? Jasper usually prowled at night and slept on my bed in daylight hours. Undeterred, I shoved the scrambling cat into my car. The imposter leapt onto my sons lap, stabbing his legs with razor sharp claws.

My kids shriek, ‘he’s not our cat!’

I inspect the creature, ‘How do you know? It might be.’

My daughter raised her brows. She looks at me with an expression that read – are you nuts? ‘He’s brown.’

The cat meows. It’s not high and tuneful, but gritty and low. That’s not our cat. I leap out of the car, run around to the boot and let the scatty cat out.

I’m at a disadvantage now, because the flyers of my missing cat are useless, I’ve seen a black cat with green eyes and no collar. So have my neighbours, problem is… it’s NOT MY CAT!

Crazy Cat Lady

I’d like to say that was the only abduction of similar cats… it’s not.

A week later the imposter cat returned and sat opposite my house. He was watching the birds in the shrubs, just like Jasper use to do. This time I brought him home and offered him food. Yes he’s fur was tinged, but the poor guy been feral for weeks. That could happen, right? I’m at a loss, the cats arches his back. Ahh, I have a brain wave, our beagle will recognise him. So I call in enforcements,

‘Dexter, Jaspers home,’ I say.

Dexter disagrees and chases the cat out of the house. I have not seen imposter cat since. Neither have any of my neighbours.

I continue to stalk my neighbourhood, calling out of the car window, ‘Jasper!’ Perhaps news of the Crazy Cat Lady has spread to the cat world? All black cats seem weary. Why aren’t any of the black cats around here wearing collars?

It’s been four weeks since my wiley cat disappeared. I must admit, at times it’s been tempting to pack up his belongings and give into the despair. But even in the darkest of times there is always hope.

 

I’m able to stay positive because of the amazing support and help from my neighbours and friends. They’ve led me to many possible sightings.

Beagle dog Black cat laying together

Recently a neighbour was amazed by a small black cat. He ran up to her little dog, sniffed his face and then followed them on a walk. The unusual cat behaviour is a classic trait of Jasper. He often follows me and Dexter on our walks. I’m confident Jasper is alive and thriving.

When he gets home he’ll be in so much trouble, I’ll probably buy him a radiator bed and better treats.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

Why not share your positive pet stories with me. Thanks for reading.

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
Rose Key Heart Lock romance heartbreat Lorraine Ambers

Say Goodbye

It’s not an easy task, even when that person causes unimaginable pain, deep wounds that lay at our core. Breaking ties, severing bonds and inflicting heartache.

What if that goodbye is your chance to finally breathe? To resurface from a lifetime of cruelty and repression. That even though it’s what’s right for you, it will crush the others who surround the two of you.

Families break, friendships suffer, children cry. Guilt can become a burden that is too hard to shake. Memories of love and loss collide within my mind. They crash like waves on cliffs, shattering rocks. Rocks that were once my building blocks. Blocks that caged me, trapping me inside fear and rejection.

I’ve taken those foundations – chipped, chiselled and clawed through. Bare-handed, bloody and raw. I’m not a child anymore. I see wrong from right, I fight against it day and night.

I walk away, head high, from you. The man, who should have protected and sheltered me from harm. I wear your healed bruises as badges of strength. I’ll face this life alone, because sometimes it’s safer, and that’s such a crime.

Though it’s sad, it’s the right time to say – goodbye dad.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.

 

Rose Key Heart Lock romance heartbreat Lorraine Ambers

How to recover from Heartbreak

This week’s post is inspired by the novel Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This melancholic, whimsical story opened up wounds that I’d hope were securely closed. It posed the important question, how do you recover from heartbreak, no seriously… How?

I have loved and lost many times;

 

  • The countless friends robbed away by the upheaval of an army up-bringing.
  • The death of my mother when I was a teenager.
  • A selfishness father, with a brutal temper who whipped in and out like a tornado, at his own accord.
  • Boys who posed as friends, fed me lies and fled with my kisses.
  • My first proper boyfriend, he fared no better than the other deceivers.
  • To my friends who drifted away with tide and time, long lost but never forgotten.

Perhaps this is why I write fantasy, an escape from reality. And perhaps this is why I write romance, ever the optimist.

notebook pen heartbreak Author Lorraine Ambers fantasy romance writer

I’m no different than any of you; it’s simply life and its consequences. Some would say fate. Everyone has loved and lost. We have all suffered the immense pain of a broken heart. The torment of endless questions, self-defeat and gaping wound that no one else can see.

I learnt many valuable lessons from my trials, and today I’ll share some of my wisdom. In the hopes that it will help those suffering, to shine a light on a subject that is brutal, raw but necessary.

You are not alone!

Be brave. My personal mantra and one born from regret. When I lost my best friend to crossed wires and miss communication, I believed that playing it cool would serve me best. My friends all advised me to speak with him, to be honest and hash out the problem. But I was scared, scared of rejection, scared of being laughed at, scared of my feelings. In hind sight, that was a huge mistake. Now when we pass each other in the street and politely smile the song ‘Someone that I used to know,’ skips through my head.

I should have been brave.

Listen to your friends. They’ll know when you should try harder, if they’re playing games or if red flags are flying and you should quit the chase. We won’t always listen or appreciate their advice at the time. But they only have our best interest at heart and at the end of the day, they will be the ones waiting when you’ve pieced yourself back together.

Robot broken heart

Because heartbreak is messy.

Have faith and believe in yourself. No one wants to hear, ‘There are plenty more fish in the sea.’ Especially not when all we hanker for is that one special person that we can’t envisage life without. Regardless, time rolls on. And with it, we discover who we are and what’s wonderful about ourselves. At the very least, we learn to fall in love with ourselves. I was single for two years before I met my husband. I discovered who and what I was capable of. Don’t be hasty in your search for someone else to fill the void. Instead of searching for Mr Right, put the energy into finding who you are.

(My geeky Greek mythology coming out to play.) When Pandora opened the box and let out destruction, strife and sickness, we must not forget that hope still remained.

Love Heart Hope

Give yourself time. None of us want to feel the twisting dagger of heartbreak and despair. Unfortunately it’s as much part of life as breathing. Take all the time you need, cry, and shoat, or bury your head under a pillow and wallow. Curse the romantic couples who flaunt their happiness.

See it as your chrysalis, for when you do emerge, you’ll be stronger and more beautiful than before.

Laugh. Maybe not immediately, but don’t ever underestimate the power of joy and fun. It’s soul rejuvenating.

Take stock of those that still surround you, for they are the ones who truly care.

Thanks for reading. Looking back what piece of advice do you wish you’d known? I’d love to hear rom you so drop your comments below. Remember you’re not alone.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance
© Author Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016
dragon fairy flower magic fantasy

Why I Love Fantasy, Magic and Romance

I write about everything and anything that’s influenced me with the same tenacity as a child’s ability to see and believe in the impossible. My novels are in the guise of fantasy because it’s a world far removed from the mundane, ordinary and boring. Rich in the tapestry of life’s experiences, steeped in mystery and wonder.

I moved often as a child. My father was a soldier, so we were reposted every couple of years. I’d always find the local tadpole pond, the best den building spots or creepy forests, where witches lived and the number 3 was a bad omen. In that regards I had an idealistic childhood, out from (I’m not a vampire, honest) dawn till dusk. The outdoors was a safe haven, a magical realm where my imagination was the only limit.

Art, pink, birds

My love of fairy-tales came from my mum. She would point at acorn shells and say that they were faerie cups. Show me an autumn forest floor and declare that the pixies must have had a party before we came. Seed-shells would become hats or shoes and flowers would be their clothes. She decorated my room in faerie ornaments and artwork. She allowed me to choose my own path in life.

As I grew older, moving so often ground me down.  My father took a redundancy from the army but the uncertainty increased. We moved four times in that year. It stripped my self-esteem and left me unable or unwilling to leave the house. I faked illnesses or struggled with migraines. My world had become a nightmare, so I clung to my daydreams.

 

 

fairy book girl fantasy
photo credit: Rachel.Adams Once Upon a Time via photopin (license)

My parents separated (again) and we moved to Wales. A place I could call home. Mums roots run deep in these parts and I knew I’d have a window of opportunity to make friends through my family ties.

I discovered the joys of reading. My cousin lent me her point horror and thriller books, which I devoured. The romances were tantalising and yet unsatisfactory. Their tales of first love seemed to skirt the deeper connections I searched for. They never explored the seduction of heart that I’d envisaged in my reveries.

A world of fantasy was one I’d retreat to in my mind. I guess it was my salvation. If magic and romance existed, perhaps my own existence could be tolerated.

Isn’t that why we read? Too escape and explore the unknown.

My perspective has changed since my depressed, teenage years. I do see magic; it exists in the beauty of life that’s taken for granted. We forget about what’s right in front of us. Until that magical moment when our fleeting joy bubbles up, reminding us of our fortunes.

For some, making dreams a reality is nothing more than fantasy. But I believe in that too. We have the power to change our future and become who we truly desire to be.

And of course, romance and love. Not the destructive, selfish type my parents taught me. The gentle, considerate kind of love that burns slow and steady for eternity.

Thanks for reading. What’s your favourite genre and why? You know I love hearing from you.

photo credit: Rachel.Adams <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/40988970@N05/21506365601″>Once Upon a Time</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;