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.
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.

 

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.