It seems like a lot of my time as a writer is spent waiting, caught between hope and fear about my writing. Currently, Charming, is still being reviewed at the publisher to see if it will be published. I’m extremely excited and nervous, hoping to hear one way or the other, unable to move forward and not wanting to go back. It could be months still, and I don’t begrudge a major publisher a minute of that time, so I wait.
On the other hand, I suddenly have a deadline for Mummy: The Curse and the superhero anthology I’m working on, tentatively called the HeroNet Files #1. So, while I’m waiting, I’m also rushing to make sure everything gets done for those projects. I’ll get to wait after the editors get their hands on both of those and hope things work out well.
The second Krueger book is now out of my hands. Balefire and Brimstone should be coming any day now. I’d love it if I had an announcement before the end of next week. And to think that at one point, I was shooting for Halloween 2012 for that one. My apologies for keeping all of Krueger’s fans waiting.
I promise that the Hawks are going to be the full focus of my attention once the deadlines pass.
And I’m proud to note that my grandfather’s book now comes up first in Amazon when you enter “Harry Heckel.” I wonder how many other people have their first book published at age 97.
I hope everyone is well, and I’m keeping the people of Oklahoma in my prayers.
All the best,
My apologies to all my blog followers for not writing and my thanks to my friend who e-mailed me yesterday and noted, “You didn’t make a post for the entire month of April.” Oops!
I’ve had lots of ideas about posts, but it’s the usual story of life and projects getting in the way. So, I was going to post about my upcoming work on Mummy: the Curse and a superhero anthology and all sorts of statuses, but an interesting topic presented itself this morning.
So, I woke up this morning to a soft tickling feeling on my back. I thought that it was probably one of those imaginary feelings that you can have or else just a blanket or sheet rubbing me strangely. I reached my arm back to move whatever it was or just convince myself that I was imaging things.
Well, the tickling feeling moved as I reached for it, and I spun and somehow, with a dexterity that I didn’t know that I had got out of the bed. (Fortunately for her, my wife was already up and out of the room.) And there was a spider, and it was a BIG spider. And well, it was a shiny black spider that looked basically like this:
Except it was on my blanket, and I’m completely positive that it was 10 times bigger than that picture. (Yes, I know that there is no scale there, but this was one of the largest black widows that I’ve seen.) I didn’t get much of a look at the underside, only to see a hint of red.
Fortunately, there was a marvel of German engineering available in my bedroom, the Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner. I grabbed it, plugged it in, pulled out the wand and found that the spider was gone. At this point, my wife came into the room (something about my yelling). She carefully pulled back the blanket and exposed the target.
I try to be merciful to spiders, but one that can make me seriously ill or worse from its venom isn’t one of them. For the record, in the conflict between spider and cyclonic vacuuming power, the Dyson won easily. I spent the rest of the morning moving roleplaying games, pillows, curtains, miniature boxes, dressers and the like and cleaning like crazy.
The moral of the story is that crazy things can happen to you at any moment, so I really need to get my novels done. I hope everyone woke up in a better situation that I did.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!
For the record, I still think highly of this Black Widow:
Unfortunately, the free book promotion on Smashwords has ended, but thank you to everyone who picked up one of my books.
One of my favorite stories to tell about my forays into fiction regards a submission that I made to Inferno! magazine. It was a tale set in the grim darkness of the far future in Games Workshop’s world of Warhammer 40K, and it featured my favorite chapter of Space Marines, the Space Wolves. Anyway, I formed a partnership with my co-author who would later write with me as Lee Lightner. Here’s the amusing part of the story – my short story was rejected.
I had received it back and was basically told that it was unusable. I reached out and contacted the editor and to his immense credit, he took the time to tell me what he didn’t like about it (besides everything). I listened to what he said and asked if I rewrote it and returned it to him the next day if he would at least take the time to read it. He said yes. That evening I typed about as fast as I could and stayed up far too late for my own good as I reworked everything. The next day, it was accepted. Ultimately, it led to my two novels, Sons of Fenris and Wolf’s Honour.
Never give up.
Inferno! is long gone, but Engage the Enemy was republished this week by my good friends at Black Library. No royalties for me on this one, but I’m utterly pleased to see a story that meant so much to me reappear. Here’s the link.
February went by in a blur. My apologies for not blogging, but I’ve been busy with work and rewrites. I keep having ideas on what to blog at all the wrong times.
Anyway, there is a promotion on Smashwords that runs through March 9 (this Saturday) which includes two of my books, In the Service of the King and Souls of the Everwood. If you create an account and enter RW100 on checkout, you can get them for FREE. I’ve linked them above and you should be able to search by title or author’s name. Free is good, especially for people who check my blog. These are only e-books and for a very limited time.
Additionally, a friend of mine, Brad A. White, has one of his books, Servant of the Muses, entered in the same promotion, and my good friend Wayland Smith has one of his books, In My Brother’s Name, about a terrorist attack on DC, on a 50% off promotion at the same site.
Everyone dealing with winter weather be careful out there.
All the best,
There’s a meme going around in the writing world traversing blogs and websites where authors write about their “Next Big Thing.” A friend of mine and fantastic writer, John Rossomongo, mentioned me on his blog, so I thought it was time to contribute. Who am I to get in the way of ideas traversing the internet?
I’m working on several projects, including the sequels to both the Krueger (almost done) and Crimson Hawks novels (close but slightly behind Krueger), a superheroic anthology (also very close but needs art), and Charming with my co-author, John Peck. I hope any or all of those could turn out to be a “big thing.” However, I have a book that I’ve been working on in one form or another for years, and I’m really hoping that it will be published in the next year or two. So, I’m going to write about The Lantern. This should be the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
The idea for the book originally came from a roleplaying campaign that I played in during high school, but it was refined over the years with a lot of inspiration added from Tolkien, Tad Williams, Frank Herbert and George RR Martin.
What genre does this fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?
This is a tough question for me. Between my day job, my various hobbies and trying to write at night, I don’t watch as many movies or TV shows as I’d like. Sadly, I’m going to wimp out and say I’d trust the casting director. For Polaris, the young man at the heart of the novel, I’d want someone with strong eyes and the ability to go from emo wreck to noble prince within a few heartbeats. For Gareth the swordsman, I could see Hugh Jackman pulling him off. I’d want someone with a good sense of humor who can play battered, confused and tough at the same time. For Freyja, I’d like an actress with an ethereal quality, but with the bright intelligence of Jenna Louise-Coleman from Doctor Who. James McAvoy might make a good High Mage Aren. For Mithra, I have no idea, but I think it would be great opportunity for someone. If they could play overconfident arrogant jerk yet still make people not hate them, that would do.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
Nine years after a great hero vanishes, the fate of the world depends on his son’s ability to unravel the mystery of the lantern left at his bedside.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Well, I’d hope that it would be published by a major publisher, however, if I try for a year or two or three, I might self-publish or find a smaller e-publisher.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’d say that I’m still writing it, but honestly, about two years for the very first draft.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’d compare it to David Eddings’ Belgariad or Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always wanted to write an epic fantasy novel. I’d probably blame my grandfather for giving me a copy of Beowulf when I was younger, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit Tolkien, CS Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, and Michael Moorcock. Frank Herbert did a fair share of inspiring me as well, and in recent years, George RR Martin has helped keep me going.
Besides my grandfather, I have so many friends who inspired me from my high school gamemaster to all my friends at American University and everyone at White Wolf Game Studio to everyone who believed in me at Games Workshop. My greatest source of inspiration these days is my daughter, who I suspect will grow up to be far better at telling stories than me. Of course, none of this would be possible without my wife, who has always believed in this story.
Five Folks Whose Next Big Thing Has Me Excited
I’d love to know what Brad White, Myke Cole, CA Suleiman, Wayland Smith and Bill Bridges will be doing next (Phil Brucato keeps me well informed ).
Happy New Year!
I’ve been away enjoying the holidays and working on projects when I can. My apologies for not posting more, but I’m still hoping to have some good news about Krueger and the Hawks soon.
I wanted to take a moment and let everyone know about a roleplaying game on Kickstarter. Ages ago, I had the privilege of writing for a game called Mummy: The Resurrection. More importantly to me, I had the honor of working with C.A. Suleiman. When I first met him years ago, I worked for a game store named Dream Wizards in Rockville, MD. I was a young freelance writer, and C.A. was a young customer at the store. Lots of people came into that store with their own ideas about games and worlds and stories to be written, but there was something special about C.A. He had that rare mix of willingness to listen combined with the ability to adapt his vision and the strength of character not to give up. He became the author of Cairo by Night, an achievement that he earned from creativity and pure persistance. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to stay in touch with him and encourage him over the years. He is an utterly fantastic writer and human being, and I am incredibly proud to have been able to work with him.
Having said all that, C.A. is now on Kickstarter with Mummy: The Curse.
It should be an amazing game, and I encourage anyone who might be interested to support it. If nothing else, please take a look.
All the best!
Just wanted to share the remainder of National Novel Writing Month. It’s definitely a draft and could use some more work, but it was still fun.
Peleus stood on the wooden deck of the merchant’s ship. Achelos stood beside him. The crew nervously shuffled back and forth. More than a few of them wore bandages, signs of the attack they had suffered. A tall dark skinned man watched the two hoplites carefully, keeping a hand on the hilt of his khopesh. The old man, the one whom Peleus had defended, spoke to them.
“I am truly sorry, but I cannot take you back to Khem,” said the man in Egyptian, spreading his hands wide. “You have my apologies.”
“I don’t understand,” Peleus said. He swallowed and pulled his helmet more tightly under his arm. He had been certain that the Egyptian would have allowed them to return with them. “We will help defend you if you are attacked. We ask for nothing more than a chance to travel with you. We can offer money to pay for our food. We will pay for your passage. We are Corinthians and come from a city of sailors. We have strong backs and can work your oars.”
A breeze blew across the sea and the Egyptian vessel gently bobbed back and forth in response. The older man stayed silent, and for the first time in years, Peleus doubted his command of Egyptian. Had he misspoken? Did the man understand him?
The crew stood quietly, waiting for their master’s response. The man’s brow furrowed and he rubbed his beard, then looked back at Peleus.
“Again, I am sorry. Please understand that I am not a merchant hoping to bring back goods to trade. My name is Sohar. I am a priest. The treasures that I brought with me are sacred and must be protected. We are now in exile.”
“In exile from Khem? Why?”
“There is no Khem anymore, not truly. The land has fallen to Set, the lord of evil, master of scorpions. With foul treason and deathly poisons, he has murdered the pharaoh of the gods, the spirit of Khem, mighty Osiris himself. The pharaoh of the gods is the spirit of the land itself. I thank you for defending me, but I cannot return. I am entrusted with the treasures of the gods. Khem has fallen.”
Beside Peleus, Achelos cleared his throat. Not understanding a word of Egyptian, he asked, “Is everything going well? No one looks happy.”
Peleus said quietly in Greek, “It’s fine. I’ll explain later.”
Priest Sohar nodded to Peleus, his eyes filled with understanding and sadness. Peleus was surprised that the priest didn’t find Achelos’ interruption insulting. When Sohar spoke, he gazed out over the sea as if he were witnessing the events that he spoke of. “The battle of the gods has ended, in a terrible final conflict. Legions of warriors fought on both sides. The Nile herself ran red with the blood of the fallen. Other terrible things rose out of the river and crawled from the desert to battle for each side. Swarms of scorpions stung men to death, only to have their stingers break on the backs of Sobek’s children. Sorcerers and magicians flung curses back and forth, and above all of it, the gods themselves waged war.”
Sohar wiped his eyes, and his shoulders sagged. He seemed to age as he stood in front of Peleus. A few of the crew members moved protectively toward him. Peleus now noticed that many of them had sacred tattoos and shaved heads. He wondered if they all were priests.
“Osiris died. It was Set’s blade that pierced him, cutting open his heart and filling his veins with black poison. The god of life is dead. The pharaoh of the gods has fallen. The minions of Set ravage the land. The dead rise from their resting places. Apep, the dread serpent, hungers to devour the sun itself. The land itself is tortured with sandstorms, locusts and plagues. The ground itself shakes in agony. All has been lost. These relics that I possess must be kept safe until the forces of Set are driven away or until time itself ends. I have failed even in that. So many things were recovered, but others have been lost.”
“Is there any hope?”
“Perhaps Ra has strength, but Apep taxes his power each night as the serpent tries to devour the sun. I do not know where to find hope.” Sohar waved his hand over his head. “These events are beyond even a man such as myself.”
“What do you mean?”
Sohar paused. “I am a priest of Osiris.”
“The sun god, Ra, who I know as Helios, spoke to me in a dream. I know it was him. I need to go to Khem. I believe he wants me to go.” Peleus felt sick. Why should he go to a land that had fallen? What good could he do there? Would it be better to face the Furies?
Then a thought struck him. Perhaps he could do something that would lead to redemption. Maybe he could find a way to appease the Furies. If he could serve Ra, serve his true father, then perhaps he could prove to the Furies that Helios was his father. Maybe they could forgive him for what happened. Even if they didn’t, wasn’t the power of a god far greater than that of the Furies?
Sohar nodded. “Helios is the Hellene name for Ra. Go to him. Unfortunately, I cannot travel with you. I must serve Osiris as best I can, and that is by remaining here in exile and keep his memory alive. And here, I will give you something.” He reached into the folds of his clothes and drew forth a golden necklace. “An amulet with the sun disk, blessed by a priestess of Isis. Wear it as a sign of your devotion to Ra. May it protect you. As for your travels, there are many ships in this harbor. If you cannot find a vessel going to Khem, I know that there are traders who sail to Rhodes. The worship of Helios is strong there. If he guides you, he will provide your passage to Khem.”
Peleus held the amulet in his hand. It was heavy, a sure sign that it was gold. The bright disc caught the true light of the sun in the heavens above. Peleus took it as a good omen. He handed his helm to Achelos and then put on the amulet.
“Thank you. I will send word when you can return to your homeland. May the gods watch over you, Sohar, priest of Osiris,” said Peleus.
Peleus walked off the Egyptian vessel and onto the docks with Achelos following. Achelos handed him his helmet.
“So,” said Achelos, “I’m guessing that we aren’t going to start our heroic odyssey on an Egyptian ship?”
“That’s correct. He’s planning to stay. There’s been a war between worshippers of Set and Osiris. Osiris lost.”
“So, how does he fit in?”
“He’s a priest of Osiris.”
“Okay. So, now what?”
“We find a ship to Rhodes,” said Peleus.
“May I make a request?”
“Let’s not take an Egyptian ship. They may be an ancient people with lore and wisdom from the days of the Titans, but they don’t know how to sail the way Hellenes do.”
Peleus had to agree with Achelos. The Egyptian ships didn’t cut through the water the way a true Hellenic ship would, yet another reason why Corinth and Athens both made arguments that each city ruled the waters. In any event, the Persians wouldn’t argue with either one.
Fortunately, Peleus and Achelos saw some slaves transporting amphorae filled with olive oil onto a ship. A few inquires and an exchange of coins later and both men had booked passage to Rhodes.
“Perhaps, friend Peleus, you will have good fortune in Rhodes. You know that men call it the Isle of the Sun.”
“I like the sound of that. It’s strange, isn’t it, Achelos? Yesterday, I knew the exact course that my life would take. I would inherit the business that my mother has run…”
“May I point out that technically it’s your business since it’s under your name?”
Peleus laughed. “True enough, but everyone knows that it’s my mother’s. Besides, no one would expect me to weave.”
“True enough,” replied Achelos.
“Anyway, who could have guessed that I’d be fleeing my home and heading into the middle of a war in Egypt.”
“Ah, my friend,” said Achelos, “the Fates have their own plans. Besides, you needed to get into trouble. After all, it’s my destiny to be a glorious hero. But, make sure you have your shield to guard my side.”
They both laughed. “I promise,” said Peleus.
The two passengers went below decks. Peleus was suddenly tired, but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to try to sleep.
National Novel Writing Month 2012 has ended. Unfortunately, I got sick immediately afterward. So, I’m recovering from a nasty cold, but I have some good news:
I finally reconnected the dots and got over 50,000 words with about 5 hours to go. I’ll be posting the later chapters, but I’ll warn everyone this year’s effort was definitely a rough draft. I wrote in spiral notebooks, three different computers, a few pads of paper and accomplished my turning point in word count while at my daughter’s Nutcracker day-long rehearsals and shows. It was fun. I’m hoping that I’ll be back to semi-regular blogging soon.
So, I haven’t published any more of Son of Helios, but fortunately, I’m making progress having cleared 13,000 words. That means I’m about 10,000 words behind the pace at the halfway point, assuming that I hold serve on the 15th and don’t fall any further behind. The reason that I haven’t published any more is because I started writing chapters out of order. Since I’m under a tight deadline and having creativity issues, I thought I’d change things around and see if it helped.
I’ve been reminded as I struggle this November that I’m writing a draft. There are a few things that I already think I may change, such as changing the mentions of gold to Corinthian silver and possibly moving Peleus from Corinth to Rhodes, since Rhodes is much more invested in Helios.
One good thing that has happened is that my daughter has been reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, to the point that when she was asked to make a sentence for homework using the word “pretty”, she wrote “Aphrodite is pretty.” Absolutely fantastic. So, as I’ve been reviewing Greek and Egyptian legends, she’s happily asking me questions and inspiring me to write more.
Here’s hoping that I’ll get myself together and get another Son of Helios post up soon, though it may be slightly out of order since I may post the next Azura chapter before the next Peleus chapter. We’ll see. The one thing that I’m not going to do is give up. There’s lots of time left, and I know many writers are in similar positions this month. If you are one of them, don’t give up.
All the best!