Summer Update (8/8/14)

Since I’ve spent the last week reorganizing this website, I suppose it’s time I start using it.

So, what’s up with me?

Summer vacation down here in Texas is almost to an end, and I’m ready for it. I’m a stay-at-home dad, and with four kids, I’m ready for the peace-and-quiet of the school year. The kids leave with their mother around 7:15 in the morning and I don’t need to leave to pick them up until 3:15 in the afternoon. That’s eight hours of silence; and it’s only a week-and-a-half away! The kids are ready to get back to school — they’re bouncing off the walls — which is why I’m ready for the end of summer.

Not much is happening (or has happened) on the writing front the last month or so, and I’m okay with that. Though I haven’t been writing, I’ve been thinking about writing, about what’s worked for me, what hasn’t, and what I can do to improve.

One thing I realized is that it’s fairly silly of me to think of my year in terms of January through December; rather, I need to think of it in terms of a school year (plus a summer vacation) — that is, a year that begins in September and ends in August. Moreover, I need to think of my writing schedule in terms of two “seasons” — one long writing season (September through May) and a shorter season (June through August) which I use to wrap up loose ends.

That’s how I’ve been thinking about it the last two weeks, and boy, it’s helped me think with laser focus about all I want to write. Knowing I have nine straight months of writing in front of me is energizing, to say the least.

New Release — ARTIST OF THE GODS AND OTHER STORIES

Cover-eBookARTIST OF THE GODS AND OTHER STORIES contains three of Jeff Ambrose’s fantasy stories

ARTIST OF THE GODS

In the land of Tistar, artists work for the eyes of the gods … and the eyes of the gods only. Now near death, artist Pandres wants only one thing: To see his life’s work. To do this, he must risk everything and team up with men who have plans very different from his own …

THE MIRROR OF MELYARA

On the dark streets of Moonshadow, a thief makes her way to the palace. Her job: to steal the legendary Mirror of Melyara. But along the way, she finds herself thinking of her past, so clouded in mystery, and wonders if the mirror can reveal her true self.

 THE GHOUL KING

After four years of fighting the evil Malki on the borderlands, Turin Whiteshroud returns home, desperate to find peace and a new life. But peace eludes him when the mayor of Taran Field arrests Turin’s brother and refuses to release him unless Turin makes a perilous quest to the Tombs of Forgotten Kings … where he must face the Ghoul King.

Ebook at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Print book at Amazon | CreateSpace

A BAD NIGHT FOR A DESPERATE MAN AND OTHER STORIES

Cover-Bad Night-Ebook

A Bad Night for a Desperate Man and Other Stories contains three of Jeff Ambrose’s crime stories.

A Bad Night for a Desperate Man
The last time Bentley Smith dated, the phrase “freshman in college” described him. Twenty years later, he feels that no woman would find ever him interesting. Then he’s set up with a beautiful woman. Could it be a date too good to be true?

Flasher
Sheriff James Dexter loves the small town of Huron, Texas. So when he can’t catch a simple flasher, frustration mounts. It seems impossible to catch this guy. But then he gets a tip—from a most unlikely source.

Alley Crawler
On one of the coldest nights in North Texas, a cop can end a pursuit that started during the heat of summer. But where will he find the moral strength to act justly?

Ebook at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Print book at Amazon | CreateSpace

Coming Soon!

TC1 - The Kingless Warrior

A world of thievery and dark magic, and one man seeks the truth—of himself.

In Silvida, the most powerful city on the Ackpur Ocean, Tabard Cain seeks the truth of his past and a road to his future. But he finds himself caught between the intrigues of a shadowy thieving guild, the evil powers of a dark magician, and men who seek to overthrow the royal family and send the city into chaos. Forced to choose sides, Tabard must sneak into the royal palace and steal the legendary Mirror of Melyara—all with the hopes of saving the city … while unveiling the mysteries of his life, and finding a path to redemption.

 

Finished!

Today, I finished my novel, The Kingless Warrior, the first book in the Tabard Cain Saga. Over the next few weeks I plan to write more about this Tabard Cain character, but for now, I feel … relieved.

On the one hand, I began this novel the last week of April, which means I wrote it in about six weeks. The novel is about 60,000 words, so that means I averaged 10,000 words a week. Which is just fine with me. On the other hand, this novel really began last August, when I started working on a novel called The Valley of Bones. That novel sent me down a long and winding path that eventually had me realize were my true writerly muse could be found. Furthermore, technically speaking, The Kingless Warrior was begun in mid-March, not at the end of April, but for reasons I explained here, I decided to scrap that first attempt and start over. While that might have been one of the best creative decisions I’ve ever made, it also means I’ve been living with Tabard Cain for about three months, and man, I’m tired of the fellow and his world.

So: What’s next?

A few things.

First, I want to write a short story for the current quarter of The Writers of the Future contest. I have an idea, so it’s really just a matter of sitting down and getting to work. Also, I’d also like to write a short story for the Baen Books Fantasy Adventure Award. Both are due at the end of the month, which means I have my hands full with two new projects for the next couple of weeks.

And, of course, there’s the edit of The Kingless Warrior. A few days ago, when I realized I was on the threshold of finishing the thing, I panicked. What would I do once I finished? Unlike my other novels, I didn’t outline this one. I had only a general idea of what would happen, and much of the story surprised me as it unfolded. I can honestly say I had moments of pure astonishment at what I was writing while I was writing it.

But, still, self-doubt abounds. Can I write this way? Does what I produce in this fashion make any sense? Or do I have a complete mess on my hands? I’ve never tackled an edit this big before. Can I do it?

I don’t know. But what I do know is that left to my own devices, I’d fail. Thus, I plan to try David Hewson’s editing method, which seems to make a whole lot of sense to me.

What is this method?

First, a line edit. I’ll export the novel into Apple’s Pages and read it straight through, fixing the obvious typos, reworking awkward sentences, and make sure there’s sufficient depth of setting.

Second, a content edit. You do this by printing out the novel, going somewhere other than your writing space, and reading the sucker with blue pen in hand. Sure, I’ll mark the obvious mistakes, but hopefully, with a cleaner manuscript than what I’d get if I’d  just read the raw first draft, there won’t be so many; this means that I should be able to focus on story flow and deeper elements of the craft. Do my openings grab the reader? Do my cliffhangers push readers forward? Do I have enough scenes? Too many?

Third, a final read, but in book form. There’s a few ways to do this. I can set up Pages to print out a “galley” sheet, and read it like that. I can read on my Kindle. Or I can send it to CreateSpace and order a “proof” to read. The issue with the Kindle is that making any notes of changes is problematic, and the issue with CreateSpace is that the proof costs money. But I’ll worry about this bridge when I need to cross it.

That’s David Hewson’s method, and I think it can work really well for me. I certainly like the idea of doing a line edit first. In the past, I found it nearly impossible to look at the story itself with all the typos glaring back at me. I also think doing a content edit away from the computer, on paper, is helpful, since seeing your manuscript in a different way allows you to catch mistakes you’d never notice. Moreover, I really like how all three edits have a specific purpose: Walking into an edit blindly, without a goal, has never worked for me. And finally, I like that there’s an end in sight. Three and done.

Of course, I’m not going to stop writing while doing these edits. So from here on out, I’ll be balancing a few different aspects of the writing gig.

What fun!