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Ten Steps… Stop Daydreaming and Start Growing your Business

We all have aspirations of becoming more successful, of being more fulfilled? Have you always romanticised about being a writer? Or about finishing your novel? Maybe, like me you hold onto the possibility of being published. But here’s the catch, dreams won’t come true by fantasising about them. No, you have to put in the work.

Some of you are wondering, but how? Where do we start? Well, I’m here to guide you through the process – read my Ten Step Plan to get you on track. It’s time to be brave, battle through your fears and start taking action towards your dreams.

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  • Commit – This should come as no surprise, but the next step in your plan is to actually commit. You’ve pictured the end goal, held the dream in your heart, filled notebooks and Pinterest boards with your ideas; the next move is to make a promise to your self to start. If your vision hasn’t taken off yet, then there is obviously a level of difficulty to it. Not to worry, the following steps will help.
  • Plan – Well done, the hardest part is beginning. We’ve all heard that person who constantly talks of setting up a business, or writing a novel, or converting their loft into a studio. While they have committed to the idea, they have yet to make any plans. And that’s what you should do, write it down, create a course of action and make sure it logically supports the envisaged dream.
  • Study – What? Why? I hear you groan. If it’s a necessary skill to your business, then committing to learning everything you can about that industry is vital. As a writer, I studied by attending a creative writing course, and now my skills are worked upon by reading, writing, editing and working with Critique Partners. Maybe you need to touch up on you marketing skills, or research Platform Building, or discover your Target Audience. Whatever the issue, there will be some form of developing and growing your skillset.
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  • Practise – This is where the ground work begins, building the foundations as you being to cultivate your dreams. Get dirty, get bruised and tumble into self-doubt; and then dust yourself off and climb back on that metaphorical unicorn, ready to chase your dreams over the nearest rainbow. Never give up, because you never know how close you are to making your ideas blossom into reality.
  • Action – Finally, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. TA DAA!! Take those tentative steps into the unknown. Be warned, reality has wicked sense of humour: Don’t be disheartened by the truth, that no matter how much effort we’ve invested up to this point, we will inevitable not be where we want to be. Maybe we’re not confident enough, fast enough, or media savvy enough. There will come a time when you hit a wall, it happens to everyone. The difference between success and failure is that the successful people never quit. Don’t berate yourself, it’s all part of the process, so let’s continue onwards with our Ten Step Plan.
  • Community – Developing a strong foundation of people who encourage and motivate you will help you stay the course through difficult times. Whether they’re friends and family, an online group for entrepreneurs, or the wonderful world of fellow bloggers; having people who can offer support when you need it most is beneficial.
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  • Health – It can be a long, winding road to reaching your goals. And many creatives struggle with mental health. It’s important to listen to your body, watch out for signs of stress and anxiety and take care of yourself. If you crash from Creative Burnout, your beloved dreams will temporarily perish. The same applies for the health of your body, so get some sleep, eat healthy meals, and take time to recover.
  • Take Risks – For life to move forward in a new direction, risks must be taken. It’s easy to stay safe, to live in your comfort zone, but nothing changes. Everyday push your boundaries, it’s the only way to grow and develop (and not just in business). Make that call, ask that blogger to beta read, attend that writing conference. It doesn’t have to be massive steps. In fact, my number one peace of advice to budding new entrepreneurs is: Conquer your fears by taking small steps, one at a time, but keep moving forward. This is how you build self-esteem, by looking back and recollecting all of those tiny achievements. You can do it, you’re AWESOME!
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  • Embrace Failures – No one is perfect, humans make mistakes, and failure in some form or another is inevitable. Don’t wallow in the misery of what you’ve lost, instead find the silver lining and learn from the valuable lessons gained. What will you do differently next time? Where will you invest more? How will you overcome the current hurdle and rise victorious?
  • Celebrate Each Triumph – Life is like trying to climb a giant beans stalk, instead of gazing up at the blanket of clouds and imagining the glittering castle beyond (or, your ideal vision of success). Celebrate each leaf that you climb! Remember to look back at all the other small accomplishments you’ve made, because that is embracing the journey, and that is the true measure of your success.
Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What step are you embracing at the moment? Do you have any advice for your fellow readers, maybe a further steps to add? Whatever your message, please comment – you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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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.
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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.

 

 

YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers Desk

How to Hook an Agent

This year I’m jumping a massive fear hurdle. In April I’m heading down to London to an event by Writers & Artists at Bloomsbury. I’ll join four literary agents who’ll enlighten me on How to Hook an Agent. The talks will include; how to know when your novel is ready, advice on how to pitch your novel, and the agents will tell us what submissions have appealed to them, with examples. This is followed by the opportunity for networking, and I’ll have my first one-to-one pitch session. Eek!

I can’t tell you how excited I am. Thanks to Ari Meghlen for her fantastic critiquing, and thanks to Judith Barrow for her Creative Writing workshops and her unwavering belief in my work. I’m finally ready to charm the pants off of the unsuspecting agents by revealing my first novel in the Shadow Knight Series. (Gulp)

All bravado aside, I’m dreading this verbal pitch. I’ve tweaked my original pitch to an unrecognisable mush of words. I could always wait for the event and see what the professionals have to say, but we all know I need to walk in there prepared.

 

Conquer fear Author Lorraine Ambers

Instead, I’ve turned to my fellow bloggers for advice which I’m happy to share with you.

A pitch should address five specific elements.

  • What is the title, genre, and word count?
  • What is the setting?
  • Who is the protagonist?
  • What is his conflict?
  • What does she have to do to overcome this conflict?

An important question to consider is what makes your book different from similar books within your genre. In business terms what is its USP – Unique Selling Point. Identify that and you’re on to a winner.

Remember that a one-to-one pitch is a two-way conversation, therefore it’s likely that you’ll be asked questions. They could be:

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What else are you working on?
  • Why do you write?
  • Where did this story come from?
  • How does your book fit into the market
  • What authors do you compare to?
  • Who are your favourite authors?

At conferences and events, there’ll be the chance to ask them questions too. They might be:

  • About the industry
  • The process of the transition from writer to published writer
  • Their style as an agent
  • About the craft

The most important piece of advice that I’ve found is that practice makes perfect. Pitch aloud, in the mirror, and to anyone willing to listen. Until the pitch sounds natural, not stunted. Until the words flow without thought or hesitation.

Remember, agents are normal people. Relax, smile and enjoy the event. Even if all you’re doing is learning from your mistakes for future success. We’re only human after all.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

Have any of my fellow writers pitched to agents? If so, do you have any additional advice to share? I’d love to hear from you, don’t be shy and comment below. 🙂

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers Desk Beta Readers

Working with Beta Readers

Getting our writing critiqued is a vital learning process for writers. Through feedback, authors can mould their novel into a piece of work that’s coherent and has marketable appeal. Beta Reader’s response can help to judge which part of your book will work for your audience and those that may not.

I’ve wanted a Beta Reader for quite some time, but had no idea of how to go about it. Can we rely on our family and friends to be honest? Probably not, I tend to sugar coat things for those I care about.

How do we find Beta Readers?

Blogger Ari Meghlem recently asked this question on Facebook. Reaching out on social media is a great way of finding Beta Readers. It’s daunting. It requires bravery and a little common sense.

Finding the right reader is a vital first step. There’s no point in asking someone to read your genre if they don’t like it. Their feedback will be less than helpful. Ask questions and build a relationship. Your ideal reader should be similar to your target audience.

Debut Novel NA fantasy Author Lorraine Ambers Beta Reader

Here are my 3 tips for working with your Beta Reader.

 

Give Guidance

Develop a list of questions that you’d like answered. These might be about plot, pacing, strength of character, or the organisation of the stories concept. Your checklist should meet the specific needs of each book you write. As a great starting point for question inspiration, go check out some of my ideas on these Pinterest boards.

Learnt to love negative feedback

Not everyone will like your work. So you shouldn’t revise your book based entirely on one person’s perspective. Gaining different points of views can help pinpoint the areas that need working on. And as hard as it can be, ask yourself: Will addressing the issues make your book better? Sometimes accepting the truth hurts, but that’s how we grow and learn. So remember to thank your beta readers, and embrace their feedback.

Return the Favour

Offer to work in tandem with your BETA reader. Or consider returning the favour at a later date. By reading someone else’s work you can gain experience at reading with a critical eye. This will be invaluable when editing your own WIP.

I want to say a huge warm thanks to Ari for agreeing to beta read my first novel, her feedback so far has been fantastic. You can read Ari’s previous guest blog post Here.

Thanks for reading my post. Do you have any tips on working with beta readers? If so, please share.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

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

 

Author Lorraine Ambers Books Reading Literature

Do you Misunderstand Literature?

paper pen writing novel author fantasy Lorraine Ambers

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Penfro book festival in Pembrokeshire and took a couple of writing workshops. The first one has lingered in my mind. The class was Making Words Workby author Hilary Shepherd. Her novels are In a foreign country and Animated Baggage.

I arrived ten minutes early to Hillary’s workshop. We discussed her experience with different editors and I confessed my excitement and apprehension of one day working with an editor. The prospect of how someone else would interpret my novel. In that moment I made a small connection with Hillary. Our conversation fitted nicely with what she wanted to convey during the workshop. That the right words can transform our writing into something wonderful, and by editing our work we can fine tune it to be clear and concise.

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

I understood the concept of the class but it threw me back to my English literature days. My English teacher and I clashed on most of my reviews. Humph!

I’m not alone in this. My daughter complains of the injustice of being misunderstood. Her teacher regularly asks her to interpret someone else’s writing but doesn’t agree with her answers. (I guess it’s a family trait.)

Book Reading Edit Write Literature

I remember this all too well, it was a common occurrence during my GCSE’s.

How can there only be one correct version to literature? Surely everyone garners a different perspective? We all have different tastes and quirks. Some of us may prefer the long descriptions of Dickens, whilst others love the beauty of emotions and the tug of heart strings.

Hilary gave us excerpts to read. It was easy to see what didn’t work. Yet harder to define what was great. I appreciate and admire great writing, but emulating it in my work is a different matter.

Instead I’ll strive to learn through vicarious reading, the practice of writing. Perhaps one day I’ll look at each piece of craft and dissect it with knowing eyes.

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

 

YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers Desk Novel Writer

TAG Who am I?

Who Am I? Tag

I saw this tag over at Angie Dokos and I had to try it out, feel free to join in. If you havn’t already, then you should check her blog out!

What does my name mean?

My name, Lorraine, means: From the name of a region in France, originally meaning “kingdom of LOTHAR”. Lothar was a Frankish king, the great-grandson of Charlemagne, whose realm was in the part of France that is now called Lorraine.
What is my Myers-Briggs Personality Type? (Link)

Personality type: “The Advocate” (INFJ-T)
Individual traits: Introverted – 86%, Intuitive – 84%, Feeling – 81%, Judging – 83%, Turbulent – 81%
Role: Diplomat
Strategy: Constant Improvement

What is my Zodiac Sign? (Link)

Pisces traits

Pisces likes: Being alone, sleeping, music, romance, visual media, swimming, spiritual themes.

Pisces dislikes: Know-it-all, being criticized, the past coming back to haunt, cruelty of any kind.

Pisces are very friendly, so they often find themselves in a company of very different people. Pisces are selfless, they are always willing to help others, without hoping to get anything back.

Pisces is a Water sign and as such this zodiac sign is characterized by empathy and expressed emotional capacity.

Their ruling planet is Neptune, so Pisces are more intuitive than others and have an artistic talent. Neptune is connected to music, so Pisces reveal music preferences in the earliest stages of life. They are generous, compassionate and extremely faithful and caring.

People born under the Pisces sign have an intuitive understanding of the life cycle and thus achieve the best emotional relationship with other beings.

Pisces-born are known by their wisdom, but under the influence of Uranus, Pisces sometimes can take the role of a martyr, in order to catch the attention. Pisces are never judgmental and always forgiving. They are also known to be most tolerant of all the zodiac signs.

Writer Author Cat

Do you suffer holiday writer’s guilt?

It’s been five long weeks of summer and I still have a week and a half to go. It’s not that spending every waking minute with my two kids is difficult, (it’s a different story when they argue.) but i miss my routine. Day to day life is knocked on its head and spilt out on the floor like a vast expanse of nothingness.

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I spent the summer fulfilling none writing goals as my creativity has crumbled under the change in pace. I suffered a total melt down and my writer’s guilt shot through the roof. I’ve longed to write, I’ve longed for the peace and quiet so I could write. But all I got in return was guilt over being a terrible parent. Was I letting my kids down by not giving them a fantastic holiday?

This year’s weather has been awful, so beach days have been minimal. Our big family holiday is looming, so I’m on a budget too. That means no theme parks or adventure days unless they involve a picnic and nature.

Author writer reviewer Lorraine Ambers woodland faery realm

 

 

I own two other businesses that I run from home. For most weeks of the year I’m extremely grateful for my circumstances. I get to be at home if the kids are sick or on holiday. Just not in the summer. Six and a half weeks is a long time. Think of all the editing I could have achieved.

It’s not all bad, lazy days by the sea has its perks and I’ve read some great novels. Renovations on our house have resumed (come on bathroom) and I’m (smugly) ready for this year’s external audit at my fabrication business.

love pen book tea - Author Lorraine Ambers fantasy writer

Now that the countdown to school has begun I’m keen to start writing again. So this week I’ve escaped to my bedroom with a hot cup of tea and my laptop. The strangest thing happened, my kids left me alone. They’ve respected my privacy and have taken my writing seriously. Perhaps because for the first time, so have I.

This is real for me now. This is my future, my third business. The time for feeling selfish about writing has passed and I’ve emerged stronger and more determined than ever before.

How do you juggle family and working commitments? Is the summer a struggle for you too or have you developed a system that benefits everyone? Thanks for reading and sharing my world.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

notebook nature writer Author Lorraine Ambers

6 Tips for Twitter #writers

Building a platform and navigating the many different social media’s can be a daunting task. It can seem a step too far, especially when we’re still struggling to write our novel. But fear not, for I’m here to share my top six tips for using twitter.

YA fantasy romance Author Lorraine Ambers Desk

It’s important to remember you’re presenting yourself as a brand. Every interaction on the internet should be tailored towards catching your target audience and strengthening your business – you as an author.

  1. Load a profile and background image, then add a few sentences to describe yourself. Want inspiration? Check out your fellow writers and see what catches your eye.
  2. Every social media has a different way of conversing. Twitter does this by short, punchy statements. Using just 140 characters to convey your meaning. Twitter is fast moving so mistakes can be made. But that’s ok, your friends will forgive and forget. So dive in and have fun.
  3. Picture’s and Gif’s are a great way to draw attention, so get creative. Warning about copyright, please make sure you have the right to use the images.
  4. Use hashtags as a way to connect with likeminded individual. Some of my favourites are #amwriting #turtlewriters and #fantasy. Play around with them and pay attention to what similar authors use.
  5. Remember your manners and don’t spam. The fastest way to be unfollowed is by only plugging your own work. There tends to be an unwritten rule that the ratio should be 80% sharing and 20% promoting. I like to mix it up, not all of my tweets are promotional. Most are asking questions, interacting and statuses about my writing journey. Take a look at my profile: https://twitter.com/lorraineambers
  6. People tend to converse through the newsfeed and ignore DM’s (Direct Messages) because the majority of messages are spam. If you want to chat, be brave and tweet them directly by adding there @name. Try me, I’ll be happy to reply. @LorraineAmbers

There we have it, my top 6 tips for twitter. Do you have any tips to share? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2017