Guest Blogger—Dave Ebright

Today, for the first time ever, author Dave Ebright is guest blogging. Yay Dave! After a powerful amount of arm twisting, whining , bribery, and basically refusing to take no for an answer, I got Dave to agree to do this guest post. (It actually wasn’t that difficult but I had fun exaggerating. I’m a fiction writer, so sue me. Sorry, Dave, couldn’t resist.)

I’m pretty sure if I met Dave in person, I’d probably find him anything but shy. Here in cyberspace it’s a totally different story. Dave’s one of the shyest bloggers/authors I’ve come across. If he could write a blog post and never have to mention that “I” word, he’d be a happy man. Unfortunately, if an author wants others to read their books we have to get the word out. The most fantastic novel ever written will not make an impact if it sets gathering dust. So thank you Shy Dave, for agreeing to this. I knew it would be a challenge, but one you’d step up to in fine style. You never disappoint.

You can visit Dave’s site over here at Jaxpop and read a bit more about his great adventure books, and if you have any advice to help him get over his online shyness at promoting his own work don’t be too shy to leave a comment for him below. I’m sure he’d welcome your ideas. Come on people, we’ve got to help this guy out…

BTW If you didn’t catch Dave’s interview over on Carol Garvin’s Blog–Careann’s Musings you might want to check it out.

The inspiration for JRA.

My friend Laura recently invited me here to guest post & chat about writing a series while describing how I jumped into YA fiction. Whew! So y’all hafta bear with me, this is a first.

For starters – THIS IS ALL A BIG MISUNDERSTANDING! Writing was never on my radar screen – it just happened.

In July, 2007 – I was in my garage thinking about my grandson Jack, 1000 miles away in Pennsylvania, wondering if someday he might get the chance to spend summers with us in St Augustine, Florida. For reasons I’ll never understand, I fired up my laptop, in the sweltering heat of that garage, and typed – Jack spent summers with his grandparents in the ancient haunted city of St Augustine Florida. Four hours later, my shirt soaked with sweat, I had banged out what became the draft of a first chapter – though I was only toying with a short story. For several nights I kept at it, adding to the tale, creating characters & a plotline – using my hometown for the story’s backdrop. The daydream resulted in a full draft, which needed lots of work, but the story was “down”.

In one chapter I had written about a pirate’s ghost ship firing cannons at the kids as they crisscrossed the harbor at midnight trying to escape in Jack’s boat – Bad Latitude. This led to another warped idea – What if Jack was the descendant of a real pirate? One of the more colorful, yet inept pirates was Calico Jack Rackham – his flag is the one with the skull & crossed cutlasses. He had the right first name, was a historical figure & his background intrigued me – so ‘my Jack’ became a Rackham & … I did a complete rewrite. As I neared the end of my rewrite more what ifs percolated & I knew two things – There would be another adventure & Calico Jack Rackham would become one of my characters. So I did another rewrite & created hints for the next story – sort of a lead in. In late November 2008 BAD LATITUDE A Jack Rackham Adventure made its quiet debut. I was working in Chicago at the time so there was no promotion.

By the time BL came out, the RECKLESS ENDEAVOR manuscript was underway. My goal was to release RECKLESS in 2009, but my big boy job made that impossible. 2010 wasn’t doing me any favors either. I was out of town again, with limited free time & a heavy dose of “what’s the use”. A jumpstart was desperately needed. My wife Deb convinced me to submit BAD LATITUDE to the Florida Writers Association for their Royal Palm Literary Awards. The book had done remarkably well locally & online, thanks entirely to Deb’s promotional efforts (I’m a marketing coward), so I reluctantly fired it off to the FWA panel.

To my shock, BL won 2nd place for published YA &, being totally stoked, I resumed work on RECKLESS with newfound confidence & determination. Again, ideas exploded, resulting in late rewrites & the formulation of the primary storyline for the 3rd book in the JRA series. RECKLESS ENDEAVOR made its buzzless debut in January 2011, while I was out of town – again.

As a reader, I regard crisp pace, memorable characters & purposeful dialogue as components of a good story – goals that I strive for as a storyteller. I like building stories within the story, adding twists when possible. The challenge for writing a series, I think, is keeping it fresh. Where backstory is needed, blend it rather than plunk a disruptive info dump in the middle of a scene. Make each book stand alone with unique plots & circumstances & filter in new characters. Finally, if writing for kids, don’t ‘dumb it down’. Teen readers are smart & like challenges.

As for choosing the YA genre – I didn’t. As stated at the outset, it just happened. My years as the coach of teenagers (another story) helped create a comfort zone for that audience & using my grandson as the protagonist provided instant affection & kinship for the character, making the transition to my alter ego – JaxPop – a breeze.

Thanks for the nudge, Laura. D

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13 Comments

  1. Sheesh! I took the day off (I’m home!!!) & jumped online & here I am in the middle of YOUR blog. This is pretty cool – except for that unavoidable “I” word. Your timing is pretty good too! I’ll consider this a birthday present. Hit double nickels today (55). Guess it’s all downhill from here. Thanks, D

    Reply
    • Well, thanks for agreeing to this, Dave and wow, I didn’t even know it was your B’day..Had I known…… 55 double digits are lucky… Hope you’re celebrating big time…

      Reply
      • Thanks for having me – yeah double digits. The years fly by. My son Mike said on Facebook that he remembers me when I was his age – 34 (almost 35) & my youngest (Chris) complained today about being “over the hill” as he turns 31 – in about a week. They think they’re old – yikes – I must be ancient. Deb, of course, turns 29 (again) in September.

        Reply
  2. I love this story. I think it depicts a truly kind and thoughtful writer who just happens to be a terrific grandpa. I think Deb did an awesome job of whipping you into shape, Dave. And I particularly like how you know some terrific Canadians.

    Reply
    • Hey Joylene – I am a doting grandpa & Jack can’t wait ’til I buy him his own boat. And I do like Canadians! My grandmother was from Joggins Nova Scotia. And Deb is a sweetheart.

      Reply
  3. This is the second time this week I have read about Dave and I am starting to really like this guy. I like his honesty and subtle sense of humour. The fact that he is a hardworker and a family man just adds more respect. I love how the books took shape and how he accidentally became a writer. Keep up the good work Dave!
    Another Canadian fan, Darlene

    Reply
    • Sorry, Darlene – no one should have to read about me twice in one week! It is a strange story I suppose – Thanks

      Reply
      • See what I mean about the sense of humour. Now I will be chuckling to myself all day and people will think I am strange. (Although they may think that already) Have a great day after your birtjhday Dave!

        Reply
  4. Hmmm, I see Joylene’s noticed it, too… the first three comments here (excluding Dave’s) are all from Canadians. Guess we know a good thing when we find it, eh? This is a great guest post, Laura and Dave. I always find it fascinating to hear how other writers found their way into this crazy lifestyle.

    And Happy Birthday, Dave! Congratulations on making it to middle age — you’re aiming for 110, right? — and on the launch of Reckless Endeavor. I must be a YA at heart because I loved it! I have family members waiting for the Spanky stories, too, so I hope that day job lets up soon and gives you a little more writing time. Priorities, priorities!

    Reply
    • Carol – 110? NO way – the record in my family is 103, great great gandmother in Springhill, NS. Thanks for the BD wishes. Always appreciate your support.

      Reply
  5. Well, Dave, you’re popular north of the border, so I’ll have to bring the fanfare a little further south, about half way Florida. :) You have great blog personality, and I’m sure that comes through in your other writing.

    Reply
    • Thanks! Ah, my personality – admittedly, a bit wacky, & for better or worse, it probably does come through in what I write. Jus’ can’t help it, I guess. And fanfare is nice.

      Reply

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