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.
snowflake Christmas ice photo

Christmas Deadline Cheer

With the encroaching Christmas holidays, deadlines become a predominant factor in most of our minds. They add additional pressure to an already fraught time of year. Manifesting stress where it’s not needed, this is something I’m guilty of. I pile on extra jobs and beat myself up for not accomplishing each and every single one of them.

good-weekend-errands-manic-stress-funny-ecard

On top of the extra demands of December: Shop, wrap, cook, clean, preen. We authors often juggle work, family, and the demands of writing, promoting, blogging and social media.

“At times, it is better to “just do it” than to “do it right”. One reason new year resolutions don’t work is that we expect too much from ourselves. Rush, meet your deadlines, you can always continue from where you stopped next year.” ― Asuni LadyZeal

Realising how insane all of that sound I thought this week’s blog could help lighten the load by shinning a little comedy and sprinkle a few well-meaning quotes into the mix. Sit back and enjoy!

instead-stressing-my-gift-get-me-case-wine

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” – Garrison Keillor
***
“I love Christmas. I receive a lot of wonderful presents I can’t wait to exchange.” – Henny Youngman
***
“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.”
― Rita Mae Brown
i-relieve-stress-by-taking-deep-breaths-of-my-wine-glass-1aP
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” ― Diana Scharf
***
“If the novels are still being read in 50 years, no one is ever going to say: ‘What’s great about that sixth book is that he met his deadline!’ It will be about how the whole thing stands up.”
― George R.R. Martin
As always folks, thanks for reading. xx

 

girl underwater fantasy magic wrting author Lorraine Ambers

Procrastination

I thought about writing a post giving my top tips to avoid procrastination. But the truth is, there’s only one: Sit down and get it done.

I wonder if there are people who don’t suffer with this plight. Perhaps certain individual are too driven and focused to let such forces come into play.

I also wonder if the very act of procrastination is in fact another emotion. Doubt, anxiety and depression are my biggest causes. I flounder, an overwhelming sense of being lost, unclear of my path and sometimes a down right lack of caring about myself. The fog has enveloped my mind, muddied my outlook and taken rot in my soul.

I didn’t blog last week. I simply couldn’t face it. I had no pearls of wisdom to share. Instead of beating myself up over the fact that I was underperforming, missing my goals and a variety of other things I could sling at myself worth. I admitted defeat with grace, accepted that occasionally my mental health is at a critical low and the best thing I can do is recuperate.

My state of mind is a gift and a curse, my craft explores the joy and pain of the world around me. It’s how I make sense of my life. Too much suffering shuts down my creativity and cripples me.

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”
Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe

Take care of yourselves, you’re worth it.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

Featured Image: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7684729@N06/16009553774″>Women Underwater</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;
Rose Key Heart Lock romance heartbreat Lorraine Ambers

Say Goodbye

It’s not an easy task, even when that person causes unimaginable pain, deep wounds that lay at our core. Breaking ties, severing bonds and inflicting heartache.

What if that goodbye is your chance to finally breathe? To resurface from a lifetime of cruelty and repression. That even though it’s what’s right for you, it will crush the others who surround the two of you.

Families break, friendships suffer, children cry. Guilt can become a burden that is too hard to shake. Memories of love and loss collide within my mind. They crash like waves on cliffs, shattering rocks. Rocks that were once my building blocks. Blocks that caged me, trapping me inside fear and rejection.

I’ve taken those foundations – chipped, chiselled and clawed through. Bare-handed, bloody and raw. I’m not a child anymore. I see wrong from right, I fight against it day and night.

I walk away, head high, from you. The man, who should have protected and sheltered me from harm. I wear your healed bruises as badges of strength. I’ll face this life alone, because sometimes it’s safer, and that’s such a crime.

Though it’s sad, it’s the right time to say – goodbye dad.

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

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