Time to Write and Not Procrastinate

?We know that daily writing goals and being proactive creates a great forwards momentum for our novels. Yet putting that into practice can sometimes feel like a mountain to overcome and before we know it, writing has turned from a wonderful pastime, into a herculean beast that we can’t face. Then even if we find time to write, procrastination takes over.

Suddenly, writing time has evaporated into a missed opportunity.

book pen artist writer author Lorraine Ambers fantasy romance novel YA

Today I’m sharing my productivity tips in the hopes that they resonate with you:

Let’s do this!!!

Set intentions

There’s no point in half-heartedly thinking; I’ll try to write today. No. Make it a definite intention: A promise to yourself. And keep it. I set mine the night before, listing the top 3 things I intend to achieve the next day and allocate the time for those things to happen.

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Carve out time.

I’m a mother of two and a partner in two businesses. Life can get pretty hectic. But I make it my intention to write first thing in the morning, so no matter what unfolds through the rest of the day my creativity won’t be impacted.

Don’t faff.

Put down your phone. Turn the TV off. Don’t nip to your friends for a quick brew (Oops, I’m already guilty of this.) Sit at your computer and begin. Even if the words don’t flow, and your characters are silent. You can always edit, develop setting and plot or research – just not on Facebook.

love pen book tea - Author Lorraine Ambers fantasy writer

Take yourself and your writing seriously.

By putting everyone else’s needs in front of your own, you’re giving off the energy that your writing isn’t that important. If you can dedicate your time to your kids, running around for their needs. Dedicate your time to a job, because you need the money. Dedicate your time to your partner, because you want a healthy relationship. Then you should apply the same principles to yourself. Your passion. Your calling. Your love for words and literature make you who you are. Own it and believe in yourself. Even if it’s only for half an hour on your lunch break, or in the car while your kids play sports, or cutting out one Netflix show. (I love Netflix; they have great story lines… its research.)

Recharge your batteries and don’t stress.

We are notorious for burning out. Pouring heart and soul into a novel and balancing family, work and personal life can take its toll. We are only human and life happens while you’re making plans. Relax, recharge and reboot your creativity. Although this could be considered procrastination, it’s different. It’s running on empty and needing to refuel. So watch movies, walk in nature, laugh with friends and read books. It’s good for the soul. And a happy writer makes for a more productive writer.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

Thanks for reading. Do you have any tips on creating time to write and how to stop procratination by? If so, please share.

You know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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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.

 

 

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.
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?

 

Debut Novel NA fantasy Author Lorraine Ambers Beta Reader

Review of The Frog’s Princess by Jacque Stevens

Future House Publishing offered me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Blurb.

In the world of The Stone Bearers, Jacque Stevens tells the story of an unusual defender and his princess. The gods are leaving, bestowing their powers upon mortals and gifting them with guardians to guide and protect them. Most of the gods have chosen powerful creatures as their guardians, such as drakes or wolves. One goddess makes a less obvious choice. But how can a frog hope to protect a princess?

The Frog's Princess by Jacque Stevens Short Story

The gods are leaving.

In their absence, they agree to loan their powers to certain humans—the bearers. As these new bearers struggle to master their powers, they are also given guardian animals to guide and protect them. Among the animals who volunteer for this task are wolves, fire drakes, and other enchanted creatures of awesome strength and magic. But with the newly formed bearer council on the verge of chaos, it falls to one small frog to rein in a reluctant princess-turned-bearer and provide balance to the universe.

I award this short story 3 stars 🌟🌟🌟

A beautifully crafted world, I love the idea of recreating fairy-tales. The stone bearers are part of an existing novel, a little more about clarity about them, for readers who have never experienced that world would have been helpful.
The blurb was well written and made the story seem rich and intriguing. Unfortunately, the quality didn’t follow through to the rest of the short story.

Camm’s personel growth was outstanding. He transforms from a meager frog to masters his fate, his character was insightful and endearing. The other characters fell flat in comparison, I didn’t connect with any of them.

It’s a quick and easy read with plenty of magic and myth. Perfect for young adult readers who want a taster of the stone bearer stories.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Blurb

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfall, Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des Rêves – The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.


I award this novel 5 stars.

My Review of Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel – The Night Circus.

The Night Circus is imaginative, dark and magical. A mix of fantasy and realism that portrays a tale of coming-of-age. The novel is thrillingly wonderfull, a delicate blend of romance and friendship. It fired up evocative images, played to my senses and delivered me into the marvellous world of The Night Circus.

I read this book when I was in Disney World. The magic and tantalising playfulness of the creation blended seamlessly with my holiday. In fact, it heightened my experience. Each caramel popcorn stall I passed reminded me of the vibrant story. The acrobats performing at the Cirque du Soleil blurred with vivid tale of The Night Circus. In the day I was transported into childlike wonder and at night Erin’s debut novel whisked me away, with the rich tapestry of her character’s lives.

I adore the book cover, with its timeless beauty, simplicity and cleverly designed intricate details. Simply stunning!

Throughout my holiday I carried the book in my heart and soul. Like the Reveres in the story, I too fell in love with the fantastical circus.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

Have you read The Night Circus? What did you think and do you have any similar favourites? Let me know I love hearing from you.

 

Harry Potter books

Hogwarts, Harry and Hagrid

 

Guess where I’m going??? Universal studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!

treasures and teacups harry potter
Harry Potter theme tea party by Treasures and Teacups

Orlando is my ultimate dream holiday. This trip coincides with my two year wedding anniversary. (Making a grand total of sixteen years together.) I love the romance of Disney and the architecture is amazing. (I studied interior design.) Hubby and my son are excited about the rides. And my daughter has plans on stalking the princesses for signatures. (I knew the magic of Disney would crack that surly teenage attitude.)

We’re jetting off to America for the trip of a life time. I’m most excited about the Harry Potter World. Eek! The palpitations will be worth it. (That’s what I keep telling myself, panic attacks are no joke.)

My love for all things Harry Potter stemmed from the films. My husband gifted me the complete set of J.K Rowling’s novels. They’ve sat in a pretty pink box under my bed for years. I didn’t want J.K’s writing style to influence my own, so I purposefully left them until my first novel was complete.

I admire J.K’s colourful characters and effortless imagination. Dumbledore, Hagrid and Ron’s dialogue are completely different. In truth, I wish I’d read them sooner. I would have paid closer attention to my own characters. It took me a long time to develop my antagonist’s voice. I found protagonists and the minor characters easier because they had more bite and veracity.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook be prepared for a ridiculous amount of themed photos.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy 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.

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman

Review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This fantastic book was lent to me by a wonderful bookshop owner in my home town. He has a particular fondness of fantasy novels and has dedicated a bookshelf to that genre. I was surprised to realise that I’ve read a considerable amount of that that shelf. I found in his collection The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien and snapped up the copy. I’ve previously blogged about my plight for J.R. Tolkien, so I was thrilled when the bookshop guy promised to save me the complete collection of lord of the rings.

Upon my next visit we discussed our favourite novels. He’s a huge fan of Terry Pratchet and as a vast collection of his novels. He admired my enquiry into Neil Gaiman. I was intrigued after watching American Gods, an adaptation of the novel by Neil Gaiman. I highly recommend that series, my husband and I loved it.

The bookshop guy didn’t have any of Gaiman’s books in store to sell. But he happily lent me his copy of The Ocean at the end of the lane. So, thank you kind bookshop owner. You made my day with his generosity. And a second thank you for lending me a novel that im sure will stay with me until the end of time.

Blurb.

The Ocean at the End of the Laane Neil Gaiman

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My review.

This novel is awarded 5 stars

The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman is a flashback to a childhood of forgotten memories. It’s beautiful, gritty and evocative. Highly imaginative, with gripping tension that captured my attention from start to finish. I devoured this book within a day.

A friend of mine said, ‘I love Neil Gaiman, the only problem with his books is that they’re too short. I wish he’d write bigger books.’

I’d have to agree. The story was creative beyond my wildest imaginings but grounded with its possibilities. From myth to fable, Gaimen tips his hat to great literature and all done through the eyes of a seven-year-old.

Even though the novel is portrayed through a young character, I felt honoured to recollect the vivid imaginings and scary possibilities of being vulnerable and at the mercy of adults. I think that’s what resonated most with me.

I’m set on having all of Gaiman’s novels for my collection. My local bookshop is set to become one of my favourite places. The only trouble is, where am I going to keep all my books. I’ll add a library/office to my wish list.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

What author have you discovered that surprised and delighted you? Do you have a story of random kindness? Share them with me – I’d love to hear about it.

Hope you’re all enjoying your summer. 🙂

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