Fantastic Depths: Coming Soon!

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I’m here once again to take a moment out of our usual posts to announce the next Ambage publication: Fantastic Depths, a fantasy anthology.

This is certainly our biggest project yet, with over 20 authors contributing and nearly 40 stories written within the genre of fantasy (including short stories, poems, and even a short play), and nearly 100 more pages than the last anthology, Constellations.

We are very close to being done, and hope to have the final product within a week or so for purchase in paperback format. The image above is a small glimpse of the cover artwork.

For those interested, below is part of the official blurb that will be on the back of the book:

From dragons to bumblebees; from epic quests to normal lives forever altered by the spark of magic–the stories here explore the depths of ideas and the limitless possibilities of imagination to charm and enchant readers. 

Contributing Authors:
E.R. Alwardby — Joshua Bom — Eli Brockway — Vincent Bryant — Timothy L. Cerepaka — Nate Deisinger — Nicholas Farrell —  T.E. Fukushima — Lin Graves — Caleb Haggerty — Aimee Hudson — Alex Humva — W.R. Krueger — Nick Matousch — John Matz — Peter Matz — Nicole Michelle — K.L. Neri — Andrew Page — Caleb Peiffer — Chelsea Smith — C.R. Wright

Thank you in advance to those who purchase it and support us! We hope you will enjoy it.

-Ambage Hosts

Sunday Editorial: The Difference Between Showing and Telling

We’ve all heard it a hundred times: “Show, don’t tell.” This is a “rule” that, unlike most, I actually believe in. Though there are exceptions, and as with any rule a good writer can defy it, it generally holds true that in many ways large and small a writer should not be telling a story as much as showing one. You are your reader’s guide in another world, showing them the way. You don’t leave your readers here and tell them about it after you get back.

But let’s look a little deeper at one of the meanings behind this “rule.” It goes deeper to the very heart of the art. The principle is the same, its importance is the same if not greater, but have you thought of it, and how many times have you forgotten it? I know I, personally, don’t always remember it. And yet it’s so simple; how do we forget it?

It’s really not complicated, mysterious, or surprising. The simple fact is that we, as writers, are observers, explorers, students of beauty and wonder; we take pictures of our findings, pictures made up of words, pictures of things nobody else has ever seen. But sometimes we forget that we’re students, not teachers–don’t we?

What I mean, in plain language, is this: It’s our job to show our readers what we see and what we think, but not to tell them what to think.

We’re fiction writers. We write about feelings, not facts: not tangible things that you can see and touch, but higher things, things that can’t necessarily be proven to exist but we know exist nonetheless. Sometimes these things are clearly visible in the everyday, if you look. But sometimes, we become so enthusiastic about what we’re seeing and what we’re showing our readers and what our story means to us, that we forget ourselves and start to tell our readers what to expect and what to think as we’re writing.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. What our readers see might not always be what we meant them to see; and that’s okay. That’s what art is all about. That’s the beautiful thing about it. If anything we should be trying to make the pictures we present clearer, if we want to guide interpretation by the strength of an artist’s sutlety; but we should not be telling people what to see in our art.

Top Ten Tuesday #33: Spring 2014 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

March 18: Top Ten Books On Our Spring 2014 TBR List

Andrew’s Picks:

I’m not very good at sticking to these lists. Very often I really mean to, but the way I choose what to read next, it’s really just…whatever I feel like. That’s the best way I can describe it. I have many, many unread books on my shelves, and so once I finish a book often I’ll just walk around my room for a while, looking at various books, and then go: “that one!” (for example I just started reading the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Been meaning to for a while, as I’m trying to make my way through every story chronologically, but I didn’t think I would right now until I saw it on the shelf and just instantly decided to, on a whim)

That being said, there are definitely some books that I want to read “very, very soon” and that’s what this list mostly comprises of. A couple of these have been on this “to read very soon” list for a couple times now, but…oh well. Maybe this’ll be the time I finally do get to them. =P

  1. Batman: Hush, by Jeph Loeb. I have been so excited to read this graphic novel (GN) for a long time. Not only will it be my first Batman GN (who is my favorite superhero, either followed closely by or tied with Captain America), but I’ve heard so many amazing things about it, and it was recommended to me by someone who’s recommendations are always spot on. So it may seem odd that I haven’t gotten to it yet, since I’ve had it for over a month or two now, but the reason is quite simple: I am almost positive I’ll love it, and I’m really excited for it (not often I can remain excited for a book for several months without reading it); as such, I’ve been saving it for a time when I get in a sort of reading slump. Because I’ll still want to read this, even when I may not want to read anything else. But I may just end up reading it soon anyway, because that slump hasn’t happened yet, oddly enough. And dangit I just want to read a Batman comic. Because he’s Batman.
  2. Sandman Vol. 1, by Neil Gaiman. Basically the same story as Hush, really–and recommended to me by the same person, too. Super excited to read this, and definitely will sooner than later.
  3. Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie. So Agatha Christie is really the author that got me into reading. Her Poirot novels as well as Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl. That being said, I’ve only read a small-ish handful of her works, and so I’ve been slowly trying to complete my collection and read all of her Poirot books chronologically. A few weeks ago I read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first Poirot, and so next is this.
  4. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. I’m really, really hoping to finally get to this this Spring. Les Mis is without a doubt my favorite musical and one of my all-time favorite stories. All that said, I still haven’t read the original novel yet (I know, for shame).
  5. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is another series I’m planning to make my way through chronologically. Last Spring I read both A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four; currently I’m reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, though I’m nearly done. Memoirs is next, and with how much I absolutely love Holmes and Doyle, I have a feeling I’ll be wanting to read that set of short stories soon, too.
  6. 11 Doctors, 11 Stories, by Various (including Eoin Colfer, Patrick Ness, and Neil Gaiman). This I won’t be reading until I’ve watched at least one episode/mini story-line from each of the classic Doctors, as I’ve only watched Doctor Who from the 9th Doctor on. But I plan to do that soon, since there’s a good amount of classic Who on Netflix.
  7. Another Palahniuk book. Read my first book by him, Survivor, at the beginning of January. He really is an enjoyable writer, and as I have three of his other novels (Choke, Lullaby, Tell-All) I hope to read another sooner than later. Also A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess.
  8. Various Crime Novels. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling; The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris; The Millennium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson; etc.
  9. Various Fantasy Novels. Including: Any Novel by Ursula K. LeGuin (definitely hope to read her Earthsea series soon, but I need to acquire all of them first); Wild Cards, by George R.R. Martin & Others; The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan; The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (one of my all-time favorite films); Ranger’s Apprentice, by John Flanagan; The Strain, by Chuck Hogan/Guillermo Del Toro; Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke; and Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman (this one is also similar to Hush and Sandman, in that I’ve been waiting for a slump as I’m super excited for it: it’s Gaiman, it’s a kid’s book, and just overall sounds super fun). And more, I’m sure. I’m not planning to read all of these this Spring, but I can’t really choose one that I definitively want to read over the others, either.
  10. Anything Else on my To-Read List. Since 8 and 9 were really 8 through 17, I figured this was a good #10 to use. I have so many things on my to-read list, and I have no doubt that I’ll probably only get to half of the ones listed here, if not less, and will instead decide to read something else. But it’s good to get these written down somewhere, and I hope to at least read this many novels, even if not these specific ones. I also really hope to read more classics. Because I have not read nearly enough, unfortunately, and almost exclusively for school, rather than my own pleasure.

Caleb’s Picks:

Andrew already did a good job of describing an attitude I think “any reader worth his [or her] salt” will appreciate. Most of my choices from the fall and winter TBR lists are still unread. My “TBR list” is very loose, constantly evolving and adapting, and never comes near an end. Without much more to say, I will withhold from further ado.

  1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. From the savant who brought me the moving beauty of To Kill a Mockingbird and the charming Magic of The Secret Garden, The Princess Bride comes with high praise from the wisest and best trusted of critics in my life, and I’m dying to read it.
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I simply have no excuses for having never read this.
  3. Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. DiCamillo’s books are typically something that I read in an hour’s sitting. My sister and I very much enjoyed The Tale of Despereaux, and I gave her both The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Tiger Rising for Christmas. I’ve since read Edward Tulane, but not this one, not quite yet, but it’s just a matter of having a spare hour when I feel like it.
  4. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe. Charming story behind this one: it found me in a used paperback store, boasting a stained and wrinkled cover, that irresistible “old book” smell, and a “FREE” label. It whispered sweet nothings too persuasively for me to turn away; it was love at first sight. It was destiny.
  5. Various Agatha Christies. Always on my list, Partners in Crime will be the first the next time I pick up one of her novels.
  6. Various mystery novels. I’ve been planning for some time to make a study in the earliest years of the genre: Poe’s Murder at the Rue Morgue, Charles Felix’s The Notting Hill Mystery, Steen Blicher’s The Rector of Veilbye, Hoffman’s Mademoiselle de Scuderi, to name a few.
  7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Still getting around to this one.
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  9. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis.
  10. Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan. I’ve read the first two books in the series in twice as many years, and now that my sister has bought and read the last installment, and recommended it, I’ll have to get to it sooner or later.

Top Ten Tuesday #32: All Time Favorite Books in the Mystery Genre

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

March 11th: Top Ten All Time Favorite Books in the Mystery Genre

Andrew’s Picks:

  1. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. Although Murder on the Orient Express takes close second, this has to be my favorite Agatha Christie novel and, probably, favorite mystery novel period.
  2. Anything Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although I haven’t read all of the stories, I’ve loved every one I have read. My favorite thusfar is The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  3. The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. While the genre may be technically Urban Fantasy, the series is about a wizard Private Investigator, and each novel has its own mystery. Definitely a fantastic mystery series.
  4. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is amazing. There’s just no other way to say it–he’s fantastic. And this story, often considered the first detective story, is also amazing.
  5. S. by J.J. Abrams, and Skin by Ted Dekker. Putting both of these together because neither is completely a mystery, but they both definitely have some mystery-genre aspects, and both are extremely enjoyable.
  6.  Bonus: The Floating Admiral, by The Detection Club (including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton). With those three names working on the same novel, you just know it’s going to be good–and The Floating Admiral definitely was.

Caleb’s Picks:

  1. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
  2. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I always call this my favorite Christie because it was the first I read. You may call that a prejudice; I call it an excuse to get out of trying to name her “best” work in my opinion from a critical standpoint. Besides, a “favorite” book is more than just a book that’s technically good; it’s a book that’s special to you. This was my introduction to Christie’s brilliance; and what an introduction! A closed setting as small as a train adds to both the drama and the awe, captures the interest, and it’s an immediately recognizable icon of the genre, which doesn’t hurt. The solution to the mystery was completely unexpected in every way, and forever captured me as a Christie fan.
  3. The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie.
  4. Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  5. Before Midnight by Rex Stout.

Top Ten Tuesday #31: Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book lovers post their top ten books for various themes that are given.

March 4th: Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

Andrew’s Picks:

Decided to do all 10 this time as there’s literally so many authors I need to read. There’s actually a lot of authors who six months ago or even just a few weeks ago would have had to be on this list, but now that’s changed. I’ve been resolving to read more authors who I haven’t read anything by and so far it’s going well. If the question was “10 Authors I Need to Read More Of” this list would grow exponentially.

  1. John Green. I’d have to say that he is most likely the #1 on this list that needs to change. I finally picked up The Fault in Our Stars a few weeks ago, and will be reading it soon. But until then…he unfortunately remains an un-read author of mine.
  2. Timothy Zahn. Often lauded as one of the greatest Sci-Fi authors alive (and perhaps the greatest Star Wars author), he’s been high on my list for a while, especially after finding Heir to the Empire at a used bookstore.
  3. Robert Jordan. After finally getting my hands on The Eye of the World, I’ve been eagerly awaiting reading this.
  4. John Grisham. I’ve heard high-praise for his novels; really should get to The Firm soon.
  5. Susanna Clarke. Been meaning to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell for a while.
  6. Terry Pratchett. Especially with my fairly-new-found love of Neil Gaiman, I really need to get my hands on one of his books.
  7. Joseph Conrad. One of the many classic authors I have yet to read.
  8. Robert Ludlum. I really loved the Bourne film trilogy, and ever since then I’ve been meaning to read the novels. Or, really, anything by Ludlum.
  9. Dan Brown. To be honest, I’ve just never really had an interest, with the exception of how popular he is.
  10. Stieg Larsson. The Millennium Trilogy is definitely high on my  to-read list.

Caleb’s Picks:

Not much to explain about each individual pick. These are all authors I wish I had already read but haven’t, and just can’t seem to get around to. Sometimes, trying to read a book “high on your reading list” is like trying to transfix the last pea with your fork.

  1. Lewis Carroll.
  2. Charles Dickens.
  3. Mark Twain.
  4. John Steinbeck.
  5. Just about every popular novelist since 1950.Can’t beat the classics. Especially when they’re free on Kindle. Still, there’s a lot of contemporary reading I mean to get around to, but as any reader will recognize, that could mean years.

Sunday Editorial: The Only Ten Rules You’ll Ever Need to Write

Do you want to the secrets of a writer? Do you want one quick, simple resource to tell you all you’ll ever need to know about writing? Do you want all your questions about writing answered in one place? Then this article here is everything you want, and more. Read on.

The Only Rules You’ll Ever Need to Write

  1. Make your own rules.