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3 Ways to Keep Track of Your Stories

I’m currently tying up loose ends in my two novels before I continue writing the third novel in the Shadow Knight Series. After being away from my second WIP – Mischief and Mayhem to tighten up the premise of the first novel – Secrets and Shadows, I’ve come across a problem.

I’m struggling to remember tiny details about the different realms. And as the series develops not only is the world-building expanding, but changes continuously evolve.

This is also true for my characters. Remembering eye and hair colour is easy enough. And I’m confident in remembering my MC traits and personality types. The trouble lies with minor characters. Plus changes in hairstyles and costumes in particular scenes are starting to become problematic.


So today I’m considering different methods to store all the relevant details for your stories.

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  1. My good friend and creative writing tutor Judith Barrow is an advocate for the Pin-board Method. Above her desk, directly in line of sight, Judith uses notes and images to mind map her novels. A quick glance forward and all the information is to hand. Dates, Places and characters… whatever information deemed necessary.

book pen artist writer author Lorraine Ambers fantasy romance novel YA

  1. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have a cosy desk. So, for the more technological-minded writers they can use apps compatible with their computer or tablet. Similar to the Pin-board Method, except all the information can be stored in one easy accessible space. Great if you’re a writer on the go, maybe you write in a cafe or at your work during your lunch break. Carrying notebooks and files everywhere is impractical and a nuisance. Why not try one of the following?

OneNote – Notepad Classic – Code Writer – Sticky Notes – Evernote Touch

maps-desk-notes writing novel ideas

3. My current method, The File System. Many authors love printable lists or a one page character summary. Where they can jot down character attributes, personality traits, fears, goals and flaws.

And they’re great to get the ball rolling, but I needed something a little more intricate. So I’ve been compiling information about individual characters. Copying descriptions and quirks from my novels and pasting them onto a document. These are then printed off and filed. So the next time I need to jog my memory about a setting or character, Instead of trawling through my novels using the find feature, I can flip open the relevant section of my folder and have instant access.

I’ve also discovered that by having bullet-point sections listing the descriptions, I can maintain continuity and eliminate plot holes.


Which of the three methods do you prefer? Or do you have another method? If so, why don’t you share it with me? You know I love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love my people.

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!

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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.

 

 

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.
Book Petals Love Writing Novel Author Lorraine Ambers

Creating a Catchy Novel Title

The saying goes, ‘don’t judge a book by it cover’ yet we all do. Equally as important, is the books title. It needs to be compelling, intriguing and in a few short words pinpoint what your novel entails.

Many writers develop a ‘working title’ which is a rough draft of the title. A temporary idea, while the work is still in progress. Sometimes after writing the book, the title becomes clearer.

My first WIP changed titles numerous times, and may even change again before publication. That’s ok, just as we revise our manuscripts over and over again, we’re free to alter the Logline and Synopsis, especially when we are trying to Hook an Agent.

Research is a vital, integral part of this process. Look at novels within your genre to see what catches your eye, what pulls you in and even what makes you think… yes, that’s precisely what the books about.

notebook nature writer Author Lorraine Ambers

A successful novel begs the reader to ask questions: Who is Harry Potter? Why is the Court full of Thorns and Roses, what could that possibly mean? What happens in the Hunger Games?

Some novels use the name of the protagonist – Percy Jackson. Others use a phrase from the book, or a word – Twilight. As a pose to the character’s name, perhaps use a word to describe them, highlighting their differences, for instance Pride & Prejudice. Don’t forget to consider the location: Through the Looking Glass. Or mix some of those ideas: Alice in Wonderland.

Be sure to write down any ideas that come to your head, even if they’re ridiculous. Brainstorm what links the theme, plot, characters and locations of the novel. Then get feedback. Ask readers, friends and family what title stands out for them. Which one hints at the novel beyond the pages or evokes intrigue or mystery.

Lastly be original. Your book’s title has to compete with many similar novels. Having a title that stands out from the crowd is vital. So, check to see if the titles already taken, you don’t want to compete with an identical title, in the same genre. This is your time to stand out from the crowd.

Novel Story Worldbuilding Fantasy

So my wonderful, loyal readers, what do you think of my title? My first novel is YA fantasy/romance called:

Knights of Shadow and Lies.

Harbouring secrets caused a rift between Sander and Fae princess Alysia. For he is a Shadow Knight, masquerading as one of her kind. When truthfully, he’s a fairy-tale hybrid, feared by the pure-bloods for the potential of his unprecedented powers. Catastrophic events force their lives to collide once more, when his brother, a nefarious Magician, seizes the kingdom in search of Alysia’s telepathic powers. To save the Enchanted Realms, they must risk everything and sacrifice all, to protect the ones they love.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

Please give me your feedback. Or share your working title. Let me offer you some feedback. As always, thanks for reading and have a fantasic day.

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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.