Sarah.Lambert

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Circumstances have forced my hand this past year, and somehow I've finished part 1 of the YA Fantasy trilogy that has been jostling around inside me for the last 20 years. Now I need to summon up the courage to actually do something with it!

My other lives: mother of two, freelance magazine designer and would-be silver-smith/jeweller with an anglo-saxon/viking fascination.

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Sarah.Lambert Discussions
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Hi all, just finished 'a big read through' of my MS and I'm having an opening dilemma. Feedback from…
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  •  · Hi Jo, thanks for taking the time to read and feedback, I really appreciate it. I will confess the d…

Hi QoD, the fact that you're not convinced yourself says it all. And similar to the comment above, your pitch really needs to connect with what's unusual about your story. Hard to do in a few words I know! But currently this could easily be a 'real world' everyday story without any multiworld elements. That leaves the only clue in your title, which isn't enough, I don't think. Good luck with it!

This sounds great Jo, I love the sound of your self-buddy technique! Good luck with that draft-in-the-stocking!

Hi Julie! This particular course is run by Bristol Folk House (they do all sorts of in-person courses as well) and yes, this one is online. So you don't technically need to be in Bristol! The title is 'Voice & Viewpoint in Creative Writing' (running for 12 weeks) but they run various things, as well as one-day and weekend workshops, although I think most of these have gone back to being in person. I've certainly found the exercises in class and for 'homework' inspiring and the tutor has made me think about things from a different perspective. But mainly it's just great to connect with people and learn from other people's perspective of your work and looking at theirs... I think there are lots of online courses now, post-Covid, from places that only did them in person before, and it's just a case of trying them out! I did one with Bristol Uni in the summer term and I enjoyed that one too, although I think the tutor for this one is better! Good luck with it all! 😊

Hi Julie! Lovely writing! You've had some quite detailed comments already but I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading it and in terms of your original question, yes definitely the balance of back story and feeding us into Lorna's world seems really well done. Good luck with your zoom reading - I empathise, having just started a writing short-course myself. It is nerve-wracking but it sounds like your group are supportive, and it's such a learning experience to do these things and get everyone's feedback! Have fun! 

Hi Sally, how are you getting on with your decision!? It sounds very familiar to the conundrum I have, although my answer is BOTH. I have a 'flawed' complete (and much revised) draft of a fantasy trilogy that has been on the go for about 20 years, and I now also have 30,000 words of a new story that I retreated to when the edit/decisions/stress of my first novel got too much. The second is easy to write - I have planned it and taken lots of advice learnt from struggling with my first, but I also haven't given up on the original trilogy. When I'm struggling and just need to write, I pick up the new project and hammer away happily. If I'm feeling stronger, I work on getting my brain around the original project that I would still really really like to make succeed one day! It's better to be writing something than doing nothing at all! Good luck!

Hi Jo, thanks for taking the time to read and feedback, I really appreciate it. I will confess the dilemma is ongoing, one day I make up my mind it needs to be YA and I need to tear up most of the opening chapters, other times I just think they need a rewrite/refocus but the slightly slower pace is still working (making it regular 'adult' fantasy and possibly more suited to my style). But then since chewing it over, I've also started writing a full-on YA story using some of the things I've learned: I'm hoping this will be instructive in several ways and help me with polishing Lifesong too! I do need to properly sit down and get the filtering stuff embedded in my head though. As you say, we will all learn together. Good luck! x

Hi Ryan, you say the rule is to prevent the subplot from distracting from the main plot. My understanding (from one of Harry's plotting webinars I think) is that the subplot should not exist unless it links back thematically to the main plot and supports and echoes it. If it does that, then it should warrant the space. If not... perhaps not...

Hi Jo, glad some of what I said the other day was useful and hope any editing is going well. I can absolutely sympathise with what you've said over the weekend about the you 20 years ago versus the you now. I started my trilogy when I was at Uni in 2002/3 I think, and although so much has changed, some of the basic structure is the same. Unfortunately for me I think some of the problems I'm having are caused by it being so long in the tooth, as it were, which is why for the moment I'm working on something fresh. I'd love to hear how you get on, though! x

Hi Jo, I haven't been on the site for a while, but always enjoy finding a new bit of fantasy to read! Like you I've been working on a story for the last 20 years, though I've been getting in a right old muddle in the process, and have put it aside for the moment to work on a newer idea and put into practise some of the things I've learnt on Jericho and from the lovely people here. I haven't read all of the comments above, so sorry for any repetitions!

I really enjoyed reading about Kimmee's world and the promise that magic is of course not dead and gone as her parents want to claim! I would definitely read on! As I was reading, a few things occurred randomly to me as I went through, and I found it easier to make notes directly (please see the document attached).

Of course these are just things that have popped into my head, and you are free to take them on board or discard them at will. Please don't be overwhelmed, we're all in the same boat, learning and muddling our way through! Happy writing!

Sarah 😊

Haven't been on here for a while so didn't reply to your getting-an-agent post but just wanted to say congrats, and don't worry too much about the next stage. If your agent is ready to sell it, then it's ready to be sold. I've heard so many stories about agents going back and forth with writers for several redrafts, so yours must be in pretty good shape! Good luck!

Hi Susan, good luck with the agenting, and well done for fitting writing into what sounds like a very busy life!!! I'm also fascinated by norse culture and love the Anglo-Saxon/Viking era as a setting. I'm revising book 1 of a fantasy trilogy - my world-building tends to start out as a sort of saxon-era type society for a base but then it expands with whatever various magical-type system comes to mind, usually with a heavy streak of destiny involved. Wyrd bið ful aræd! Can't beat Last Kingdom, though I would say Bernard Cornwell is very good at what he does (clearly) but to pitch something similar to agents you need to really know what makes your MS different to everyone else's. Guess quite a few people are trying to replicate BC's millions of sales. I've also met him and have to say he's pretty arrogant and sexist!

For reading around the era I really recommend 'The Winter Isles' by Antonio Senior. I also really enjoyed one set in Iceland but I can't remember what it's called right now. I've been sticking to the fantasy genre more recently to help with my own writing. Good luck with it all, anyway, and don't give up x

Added a comment to Agent 121 

Hi Glyn, well done for being brave enough to sign up for an agent 121! I'm not sure if I need that or a book doctor currently, ha, or maybe 30 hours of mentoring would do the trick (if only that was in the budget!)

It does seem like the world of agenting is very contradictary. You've got to line up several impossible targets: aiming for what is 'current' without a crystal ball or a time machine, getting it in front of the right agent who doesn't know what they want until they see it, and magically ticking a number of boxes that are constantly changing.

Who knows what sells? I think the saxon era is definitely strong enough to sell with the right story! Perhaps indie publishing is the way to go..?

It also seems like every agent's current list of wants includes 'diverse' voices, but given the response given to Jane, I really think they just want a token amount, not MCs. (Congratulations on your upcoming indie publication, Jane!) A bit like the current Netflix version of 'Letter for the King,' where the story has not only been embellished beyond recognition, but also the crude 'diversity' brush has been brought in - or so I felt. About half an hour before the end, two side male characters hastily confess their attraction just in time for the final battle in which one of them dies, cue extra pathos, sob sob. Unless I missed something there was no real lead up or genuine hints to develop their attraction naturally, unless I'm supposed to assume that because one was a swaggering performer and the other a bit quiet and sensitive then obviously they are gay... It really just felt like a token nod in the LGBTQ direction.

Anyway, good luck with it Glen, stick with Rick's advice - and if it's a 'damn good story' then it will sell!



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