Author Lorraine Ambers Blog

The Sunshine Blogger Award

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Whoop! Hooray! I have been awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award. Yikes, I’m so grateful to my nominator Annie from A Booknerd Travels. Thank you so much for thinking of me. Go check her wonderful blog; she is an amazing book blogger with creative content.

It’s lovely knowing my fellow readers enjoy my posts. Thank you to all my followers and for every comment and like I receive. It truly does brighten my day. You’re all awesome!

So, what is the Sunshine Blogger Award? It is an award that is given to creative, positive and inspiring bloggers.

Here are the questions she gave me:

  • What thing are you most grateful for in your life?

To my loyal family and friends, who love me for me. No matter the distance or time separating us, they’ll always remain in my heart.

  • What is the story behind your blog’s name?

Thats simple: Lorraine Ambers is my author name.

  • How did you meet your best friend?

She was dating my brother’s best friend, so I knew her to say hello. It wasn’t I moved to the two bedroom house opposite her, with my brother and sister, that we became inseparable. She turned up with white paint and helped me decorate the ruined council house. In fact, many of my friends helped us transform that tiny house into a home.

  • Do you have any pets?

I have a beagle called Dexter. He’s cuddly and a little lazy. We lost our cat Jasper on bonfire night; he’s still very much missed. Even by Dexter, they were good friends.

  • Which are you favourite TV shows/movies?

So many, I binge watch shows: Peaky Blinders, American Gods, Westworld, The Magicians, and Jessica Jones. And give me any fantasy-Sci-fi-action-adventure movie.

  • What hobbies do you have?

Reading, writing and binge watching shows.

  • What are the Top 3 ways you want to improve yourself?

Great question. I’m constantly working on myself. It’s vital for my wellbeing to practice grounding/meditation and yoga. I’d like to be braver, more confident and outgoing. I’m constantly pushing myself to make my dreams come true.

  • Where would you like to live and why?

I love it here. I’m an army brat, so we moved every couple of years. I even did a few years in Germany, which was gorgeous. But all I craved was a home, somewhere to fit in and belong. West Wales is where my heart belongs.

  • If travelling became free, where would you like to go first?

Venice and Rome. My kids hate flying, so I’ll wait until they’ve left home… and then I’m off.

  • What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?

I love chilling at home with Dexter and my family. Then, dinner with some friends. Tonight we’re going to Pizza Tipi: fire pits, rustic furniture, great food and a few drinks under the cover of giant tipi’s – Perfect.

  • Do you speak a language other than English?

Not much. I struggle to grasp or remember languages. But I can count to ten in French, German and Welsh. And then I know a few basic polite phrases in each. It’s quite poor, I wish I’d paid better attention in school.

And now the people I decided to nominate:

Here are my questions for you:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Tell me your favourite quote to live by.
  3. Best book you’ve read this year?
  4. Name three things you do well.
  5. How do you relax?
  6. What is your favourite movie?
  7. Tell me a little bit about your home town.
  8. If you could be any animal what would it be and why.
  9. What quality do you admire most?
  10. Whats your favourite hobby?

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

I hope you enjoyed my answers. For the people nominated, I can’t wait to read your answers. If you’re following my blog, thank you so much. I hope you have a fantastic weekend! 🙂

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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.
Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

Logline and the Perfect Pitch

Previously we’ve covered how to write a Synopsis and How to Hook an Agent. Why not take a look? In future post’s we’ll uncover Crafting a Novel Title and Writing Book Blurbs. This week we’re taking a closer look at Loglines.

As a writer I’m good with written words, but not so much when it comes to talking about my project. And I’m not alone, many writers flounder when asked the dreaded question; ‘What are you working on?’ or ‘What’s your book about?’

How to craft a Novel Logline and the Perfect Pitch

I cringe when thinking about my many long-winded blunders. They had little to do with my work and more about me clutching at something to say. I remember the life-light drifting from their eyes as I waffled on, knowing that we were both thinking – that sounds bloody awful.

This is where a Logline comes in. Or elevator Pitch, the name comes from the notion that the pitch should be succinct enough to be delivered to another party while riding an escalator. In essence, it is the quick presentation, outlining the idea for your novel. Usually one sentence, and spoken in around 30 seconds.

That’s quite a feat, to deconstruct a whole novel and narrow it down to its barebones. And there’s more. The Logline has a duty to perform. To engage our interest, evoke emotion by introducing the stakes. To introduce our written world, and pluck at the potential reader’s emotions.

Within the pitch, the following elements must be incorporated.

  • Protagonist – this is where you need to get creative. Instead of character names, give descriptions like: vengeful fairy, disabled cop or workaholic mum.
  • The protagonist goal – what does your main character want to achieve?
  • Conflict – the antagonistic force. What is your character fighting against?

Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

A great idea is to read Logline for movies on IMDB. Here are two of my most recent favourite movies.

Black Panther: T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

Thor Ragnarok: Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.

Practice your amazingly crafted logline in front of a mirror, then on your pets, kids, partner, best friend and anyone who will listen. Gauge their responses, if you get the glazed look perhaps it’s time for a tweak. Otherwise, congratulations you’ve conquered the dreaded Logline!

Here’s mine; do you think I’ve added the three elements? Is it intriguing or should I head back to the drawing board? I’d love your feedback.

Knights of Shadow and Lies: A telepathic Fae princess and clandestine guard race against the fall of the blood-moon, to save a goddess from a manipulative Magician before he attains control over the Enchanted Realms.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer
© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
How to Write a Synopsis Novel Story

How to Write a Synopsis

The thought of writing a synopsis is enough to make dread swirl in our guts. After months of plotting, writing and editing – we’re finally faced with five things that stops us in our tracks.

  • Novel title
  • Pitch/Logline
  • Blurb
  • Synopsis

In this week’s blog, I’ll be breaking down the elements needed for synopsis writing. Hopefully – removing your fear of how to craft one. It’s not hard… honest. It’s simply a different process.

One thing I discovered while writing my first synopsis, is that literary agents and publishers wants the complete story. So don’t leave them hanging with your story. Reveal the climax and ending.

The one page synopsis is intended to communicate to agents and publishers that you have a complete plot and character arc. They’ll be able to identify if the story works as a whole.

EE card Synopsis Writing Novel Craft Story

Tell the story. Keep it simple. I like to skim through my novel jotting down notes of plot points: Action & Emotion. From the notes, I begin to shape my synopsis. The notes highlight the important story elements. Always write your synopsis in 3rd person, even if the novel is 1st person and write in present tense.

Think of this as more of a technical paper, it’s a factual explanation of the events that drive your story. Don’t evoke your writing style and voice.

Set the stage by providing the setting and introduce your main characters (Protagonist and antagonist). Always introduce each characters NAME in full capitals, the first time they’re mentioned. Then include where the story starts and identify the inciting moment. But keep it simple. Use a few well-chosen words to evoke meaning.

  • Person
  • Time/Place
  • Action
  • Consequence

From there we begin to flesh out the details by revealing what the protagonist and antagonist are planning to do. Showing how, why and when are they going to do this. Don’t include side quests, additional characters or plot twists – unless they’re vital in explaining the story arc. There will be practically no backstory or description, it will clutter the synopsis.

Finally, it’s time to reveal how the story ends and how it was achieved. Remember to link it back to the inciting moment.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

 

The Mystery Blogger Award

The Mystery Blogger Award

The Mystery Blogger Award

Its been a while since I was last nominated for an award, so thank you Taiwo @ stuffedshelves for nominating me this time. You brought a smile to my face 🙂  I love her blogging voice; you should check it out for yourself.

This award was created by Okoto Enigma!

Rules

  • Put the award logo/ image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best posts

 

So, let’s get on with it!

 


 

Three Random Facts About Me!!

  1. I can’t parallel park in town to pick up Chinese food. My husband thinks this is hilarious. I drive around to a quiet street to park. The idea of holding up traffic while I make a hash of my driving is terrifying.
  2. I love to dance to R&B while I cook dinner. Trouble is I have no blinds in my kitchen so my neighbours can see.
  3. I love Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. I’m really flexible but have shockingly poor balance. Me and the tree pose do not get along.

 


Taiwo’s Questions For Me!

1. What’s the best thing that has ever happened to you?

Meeting my husband. With him I’ve conquereded two of my life goals, my children and owning our home. Now he’s encouraging and supporting me while I chase my dream to become traditionally published – Thank you hubby. My next goal is pitching to agents at a conference at Bloomsbury publishing houseHow to Hook an Agent

2. What do you do apart from blogging? School, job, what?

I’m a partner in a welding and fabrication, I take care of all administrations. I’m a qualified landlord and have three tenants. I also write YA fantasy romance novels, the first is in the submission phase while I edit the second.

3. What’s your best season?

I have two, spring and autumn… not too hot, not too cold, but just right. At these times the forest colours, scents and sounds are amazing. It when I feel most alive.

4. What does your dream life look like?

To own a home in a secluded slice of Wales, continue to enjoy my family and friends and continue to write. One day I’ll be signing books alongside my favourite authors. *Waves at* Sarah J Maas, Neil Gaiman, Marissa Meyer and Lev Grossman. Check out some of my reviews.

5. If you could be an animal, which would you be?

A lioness, because the male thinks he’s king of the pride… but really it’s the female besides him.

 

 


 

I nominate the following amazing people!

My questions are:

  1. What’s your favourite genre of books and movies? Are they the same?
  2. If you could have a superpower what would it be?
  3. What was the last book you read?
  4. What do you like to do fun?
  5. If you could date a character, who would it be and why?

Voila!!

If you’re reading this, do check out all the blogs I linked to. They’re all amazing I assure you. Thanks for stopping by.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

 

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.
pexel present christmas hot chocolate pine cones

Favourite Christmas Traditions

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

Snow Snowmen Christmas

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

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

pexels-candy cane-hot chocolate

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

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

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

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