Once Upon a Rhyme in Voyager Sampler FREE

The good folks at Harper Voyager have released an eBook sampler with excerpts from 15 science-fiction and fantasy authors, including Jack Heckel (my penname that I share with my co-author, John Peck). It’s a great way to browse a number of sci-fi and fantasy books, because after all, it’s free. Here’s the link. One little note is that the draft of Once Upon a Rhyme was in copyediting at the time of selection, so there are some grammatical errors and a word or two missing. It’s a rough draft, and I promise that final version is well-polished.

On July 24, John Peck will be at San Diego Comic-Con representing Jack Heckel in a writer’s panel on fairy tales. We are both extremely excited about SDCC (and yes, I wish I could go too!). It should be a fantastic opportunity.

As for the rest of my writing, I have a week or so to breathe before some edits to Happily Never After. I’m looking forward to spending some time with the Crimson Hawks and Freedom Squad, as well as taking a look at my epic fantasy, The Lantern.

All the best,

Harry

 

Characters vs. Our Outline in The Charming Tales

When John Peck and I originally started writing the books which became The Charming Tales, we started with an outline that we both agreed upon. I remember being very excited about beanstalks, geese that could lay golden eggs, witches who lived in gingerbread houses and how our two main characters would deal with all of them.

And as we wrote, all of those exciting ideas blew away like a straw house facing off with a big bad wolf.

Our characters, particularly Liz Pickett and the rescued Princess Gwendolyn, suddenly took the plot into their own hands. We realized that we couldn’t write the book and follow the outline. The characters wouldn’t let us. We had too many questions about what they would do, and we both discovered that we were much more interested in what would happen to them than what would occur in our original plot.
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Charming and the Captain

I’ve written on a few occasions about my grandfather, Dr. Harry L. Heckel Jr. (“Captain Heckel”), the oldest man to perform a solo circumnavigation of the globe.  I still owe him a page on this blog. He always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. He would push me to do more writing, and he reminded me more than once that life was shorter than I thought.

In fact, he told me that life was short on the day he died.

When I took the afternoon off work to go see him that day, I had something to tell him. At that point, contracts hadn’t been signed and I wasn’t supposed to talk about it, but I had received the offer on The Charming Tales. He had been having a difficult week and everyone thought the end was near.

So on his last day, I was able to tell him that I had gotten a book deal with Harper Voyager. Charming is the last thing we talked about, and I’m so thankful that I had the chance to share it with him.

 

 

 

Once Upon a Rhyme…

A long time ago (2008), my former college roommate and dear friend, John Peck, stood in a park in northern Virginia and told me about some ideas that he had for novels. One in particular struck me. He wanted to tell the story of a fairytale where Prince Charming didn’t save the princess or slay the dragon.

A few months later, after not being able to get the idea out of my head, I called him and said “let’s write a book.”

And so, Charming, our comedic fantasy fairytale epic, was born. At least, that’s how I remember it. I’m going to try and get John to guest post and give him ample time to correct any mistakes. As a friend once told me, memory is the second thing to go. He couldn’t remember the first thing. :)

A little more than five years later, Harper Voyage has announced the publication of Once Upon a Rhyme and also has a publication date for the sequel Happily Never After. They will both be published under the penname of Jack Heckel, but John Peck and I are writing the books. I was a little over-enthusiastic when word first came out and created some confusion by posting but never explaining my relationship to Jack. My apologies.

In the next several weeks before publication, I want to use this blog to explore how we got from a park and a phone call to publication. Honestly, it was a long road and I daresay that I’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve edited the books. I’ve also spent plenty of hours wondering exactly what form of masochism drives people to spend their evenings writing.

I’d like to invite everyone to visit www.jackheckel.com which will feature even more about Jack Heckel and the characters and stories found in Charming. Once Upon a Rhyme is up for pre-order as a Kindle book on Amazon.com and for the Nook on Barnes and Noble. All support is greatly appreciated. It’s a fun book, and I still laugh when I read it, even after a dozen edits.

Thanks!

Voyager Impulse to Publish Digital Submission Winners

Voyager Impulse to Publish Digital Submission Winners.

Guest Post – Wayland Smith on HeroNet Files

Welcome to my first guest post! I’m honored to have my friend and co-contributor to HeroNet Files, Wayland Smith visiting. Without anything further, here’s Wayland.

 

Howdy. I’m very excited to be a guest star here on Harry’s blog. Harry, in addition to being a good friend of many years, is one of my co-writers in HeroNet Files Book 1. HeroNet is a concept I created years ago in the process of fleshing out a shared world of superheroes that Harry and I have worked on together. HeroNet is an online database that heroes can access for information on various villains, groups, ideas on how to fight bad guys, and even ways to contact friendly scientists, gadgeteers, and medics.

Argent, one of the two main characters in this story, has a long history in many different incarnations reaching back to 1988.  I guess that means he can vote and legally buy a drink now. He’s a highly skilled fighter with a major attitude problem. In fact, his brief time on a hero team came to an end because of that, but that’s another story. While he’s very rough around the edges, Argent is definitely a good guy. He’d laugh at being called a hero, but he’s on the streets almost every night, fighting the good fight and protecting the innocent. The fact that he happens to really enjoy a good fight is just a bonus.

Cobalt Rose is a novice hero, and Hunt the Tiger is mostly from her viewpoint. She’s something of an action junkie, and accidentally discovered the rush from protecting people. The story opens with her debut in costume, which, in the grand tradition of heroic first appearances, doesn’t quite go as planned. It’s a fun story, or at least I think so, with some twists and turns along the way.

HeroNet Files, Book 1, is just the beginning of stories set in this world. There will be a Book 2 at the very least, which Harry, Dara, and I are already planning, possibly with some new authors contributing. I also have at least one novel finished about Wildside, Inc, a band of superhuman mercenaries (don’t call them heroes!), and we’re looking into additional projects.

For myself, I have a novel out called In My Brother’s Name, about a terrorist attack on Washington, DC, that comes about because of a mistake someone made that they just can’t admit to. Things take a series of dark turns from there. I also have stories in a few different anthologies: This Mutant Life: Bad Company, another collection of superhuman stories, and Memorial Day – my story in that one shares the world of Wildside and Argent and Cobalt Rose. I also have a story in SNAFU: Tales of Military History, which is coming out later this year.

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of heroes. I write reviews of comic books for DCCollectors.com, and post about more general heroic topics on my website, watchtowermansion.com. I occasionally contribute to unleadedwriting.com, a group blog about writing in general.

Thanks to Harry for letting me come by and talk a bit, and thanks to you for reading.

Wayland Smith story contained within...

Wayland Smith story contained within…

Argent and the Cobalt Rose on the cover

Argent and the Cobalt Rose on the cover

 

HeroNet Files released

I’ve had my first superhero story published. I’m really excited, but before I get started, I want to thank Sam R. Kennedy for the tremendous cover that he created. If you’d like to see more of his work, you can click here to go to his website. He is a true professional and an absolute pleasure to work with. Additionally, I’ve invited my fellow contributors, Wayland Smith and Dara Hannon, to do guest posts about their novellas in the next few days.

So, this is your official warning that I’m potentially about to go into a fanboy crazed comic book rant.

My First Comic Book

My First Comic Book

The first comic book that I ever remember getting was Justice League of America #129 (that’s the first series). I’m not sure that I understood everything that happened, but I was shocked when (spoiler alert!) Red Tornado was willing to sacrifice himself to save a city. There were so many superheroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkman, Flash, of course, Red Tornado) with so many powers that I was completely hooked. I followed that up with The Incredible Hulk #200 (seriously awesome!) and Captain America and the Falcon #199. I was hooked. Spider-Man would soon enter my life. To this day, I love superheroes and comics.

During National Novel Writing Month, I wrote a sequel to my novella/novel in progress, Freedom Squad: Daughter of Orion. I’m hoping in the next year to have a couple of books come out for Freedom Squad, written at a Y7 level or so. Rigel is officially my daughter’s favorite superhero (though she’s second to Hermione Granger as far as idols). While this book is set in the same shared universe, it’s written for a more adult audience. For example,  there’s a sex scene in one of the stories as well as a human trafficking issue in mine.

When I wrote Hidden Strengths, I wanted to write an origin story about people who were discovering their powers and trying to benefit from them without being a hero or a villain. I was inspired by Spider-Man and his attempts at pro wrestling before he learned that with great power comes great responsibility. Scott, one of the protagonists, decides to get involved with a superhuman fighting league so he can earn money to pay for college. He’s a nice guy with something to prove who gets in over his head rather rapidly. Fortunately for him, he has the ability to absorb kinetic energy making him stronger and more invulnerable in the short term. Part of that energy stays with him, permanently changing him over the long term.

My other protagonist, Marisa, is probably closer to being a villain at the beginning rather than a hero. She has control over her own superhuman powers and has trained to use them for most of her life. Unfortunately, outside of combat, she’s a pawn of the people around her.

Both characters discover something they need in the other. For Marisa, Scott is one of the first decent people she’s met, and she desperately needs someone like that in her life. For Scott, Marisa bolsters his self-confidence and helps him find the strength to try and escape the world of superpowered combat. Unfortunately for both of them, the true villains of the piece aren’t going to let them walk or even run away.

There’s a lot of action in the story and hopefully, a solid superheroic origin.

HeroNet Files Book 1, is available on Amazon in print and Kindle versions, as well as Smashwords in about every other electronic format. It’s also available at Barnes and Noble in print and Nook formats.

HeroNet Cover

Cursed Necropolis D.C.

Twenty years ago, Andrew Greenberg did me the honor of entrusting me with writing D.C. by Night for Vampire: The Masquerade. I’ve written many things since them, but most of the people who remember my roleplaying books start with that one. Today, I was able to revisit the World of Darkness from a new perspective in Washington, DC – the perspective of the Arisen from the innovative roleplaying game, Mummy: The Curse.

My thanks go out to CA Suleiman, my developer, and Neall Raemonn Price, my co-author, who made this happen. Both of them are absolutely incredible. If you see either of their names on a roleplaying game, buy it.

The book answers a number of questions, like why there are all those circles in the city and why do we have an obelisk in the capital of the United States? The answer of course, is to return the glory of the City of Pillars from over four thousand years ago. The book has a number of fun NPCs who could be moved to other cities and chronicles as well as being left in their setting.

Mummy: The Curse and Cursed Necropolis DC can be purchased in print or pdf at Drivethrurpg.com.

DC Mummy

 

 

 

The Captain’s Final Voyage

Hi everyone,

My apologies for being away so long.  I’ve been working on a number of really amazing projects which are being published this year. I’m going to have some guest bloggers come on in the next few days or so and talk about HeroNet Files, an anthology I contributed to. However, I’m going to write about that more tomorrow.

On February 7th this year, shortly after I finished a visit with him, my grandfather, Dr. Harry Heckel Jr., passed away. He was 97 years old. Part of the reason that I haven’t written is that I wanted to say well, a lot of things about him. I kept remembering the stories that one of my dear cousins told at his memorial service and how great a job she did. I’m his grandson, the writer, and I have trouble finding the words. Of course, I know what he would tell me. He’d say that I should just write, pick a direction and go.

He was the oldest man to circumnavigate the globe on a sailboat (with stops), and he did it twice. With my aunt (and including a chapter by the aforementioned cousin), he published a book about his journeys last year. One of my favorite recent memories was getting to sit next to him at the local Hanover Book Festival, signing books together.

As far as my writing goes, he always encouraged me. He gave me a copy of Beowulf when I was young and followed it up with Horace when I took Latin in school. He told me to follow my dreams and to stop talking about being an author and just write. When I was younger, I’d write, but I always found excuses… work, friends, important things to do, tv shows, etc. He never relented in telling me to keep writing. He believed in me, and he always inspired me. He inspires me still.

I was out searching for a specific present that my daughter wanted to give one of her friends for her birthday when I received the news. After I found the gift, I went to the closest local game store to buy myself a miniature. I wanted something and didn’t want to turn to ice cream. The young man who rang me up said to me, “I really liked your Crimson Hawks novel. I can’t wait for the next one. When is it coming out?”

I like to think that somehow my grandfather was sending me a message.

In the next week, I’m going to dedicate a page on this site to him. Many people come to this blog searching for Captain Heckel, Harry Heckel Jr., the Idle Queen, and so on, looking for my grandfather. I’ll include a link to his book permanently on that page, but for now, here’s one. It’s the story of a man who never let obstacles get in his way, although malfunctioning boat engines sometimes slowed him down.

My good friend, Brad White, sent me an email with Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar when he learned. My grandfather was always fond of poetry and it was read at his service. (Thank you, Brad.)

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

One final story from me. This weekend I went to Norfolk with my father and my family. The Captain was mentioned quite a bit. After we dropped my father back home, I said that sometimes it seems like my grandfather isn’t gone, that he’s just off sailing somewhere.

My daughter spoke up from the backseat. “That’s exactly where he is, Daddy.”

 

Deadlines and Real Life

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am alive and writing. I’m behind on a few deadlines and doing my best to catch up. Life’s thrown me a few curves, but I’m hoping to get back to blogging soon.

Thanks,

Harry

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