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