It’s been a long time…
I can’t remember when I last did a blog here, which is a little sad, because I think the world could use a few more things to read. Okay, it looks like it was August 4, 2018. That’s a while.
I’m starting to get started once more. Hopefully, this is a good step in the right direction. I’ll start with a writing update.
First, I owe The Darkest Lord an apology. It is the final book in the Mysterium trilogy, and I did it a tremendous disservice on launch. Avery’s journey which began in The Dark Lord, and continued in The Darker Lord, finally came to its conclusion. In addition, it was the last Jack Heckel book from Harper Collins, so John Peck and I are currently looking at new publishing options.
The good news is that the reason we are looking at new publishing options has to do with the third book in the Charming series which we are working on tentatively titled, The Dragon and the Beanstalk. We’ve wanted to do a third Charming book for years, and we are both very happy to be working on it. We’ve also talked about putting out a collection of short stories based on the characters in the series.
There are a number of other half-finished and half-started projects as well, but it’s looking more and more like I’m finally turning my attention to Freedom Squad. I have four or five novels in various states for my superhero team, and I’m hopeful that the first may come out as early as Christmas 2021. More updates to come. Oh, and I’ve still been finishing nanowrimo each year, so there are three more novels that haven’t seen this blog in draft form.
As far as gaming goes, I have some possible news on the wargaming front, but I need to check on what I’m allowed to say.
I’m working on way too many miniature projects, which is why I can never get anything finished. I’ll try to highlight a few in the next couple of weeks and do some sharing. Painting has definitely helped over the last few years.
If you are still following this blog, thank you for your patience. I appreciate it immensely, and I’m going to try to write some fun and entertaining stuff in the next year. If you are new, welcome. I hope you find something that intrigues you.
A special thanks to everyone at the Virginia Writers Club. The Symposium helped get me to dust off my blogging keyboard.
Wishing everyone well in these challenging times and hoping the best is yet to come. Take care!
The Darker Lord
On July 24, the sequel to The Dark Lord, The Darker Lord, came out in ebook format, and on September 4, the paperback is released! I’ll be a guest at RavenCon 13.5 in Richmond, VA on September 21-23, and I’ll be doing a reading at one of my favorite places, Fountain Bookstore! Please come out and see me if you can!
If The Dark Lord was about our love of fantasy, science-fiction, roleplaying games, The Darker Lord delves a little more into fantasy and sci-fi literature. Like the first book, it contains lots of references, and at some point, we’ll have to do a complete list. It pokes fun at university life, but also deals with some more serious issues about how the sub-worlders are treated. There’s lots of humor, and Avery’s life doesn’t get any better. The Qwillery said that it was “darker” than The Dark Lord, but still lots of fun. Read the rest of this entry
Here we are at the end of 2017. Looking back, it’s been a long and strange journey, and while that is true of most years, this one had some transcendent moments and a lot of challenges.
When I started the year, I hoped to publish Freedom Squad, because way back in 1990, when I ran Champions adventures at American University, I set the world of Freedom Squad in the near future, 2017, to be exact. My friends and I had a wonderful year of superheroic gaming, and it seemed appropriate that Freedom Squad would enter the world of literature this year, but it wasn’t meant to be. That’s okay, because when the three and a half plus Freedom Squad novels are ready, I want to make sure they release the right way. Read the rest of this entry
As I write this, midnight approaches on the East Coast of the United States, bringing with it the month of November, or for me, National Novel Writing Month. During this month, also known as Nanowrimo, I will attempt to write 50,000 words along with several thousand other people. I’ve successfully managed the task every year since 2009, but each year brings its own unique challenges.
If you’d like to join us in the attempt, please go to www.nanowrimo.org. When you sign up, you gain access to tons of support, from fellow authors to organized writing events in your area, to the website’s own tracking system. Three of my indy novels, In the Service of the King, Souls of the Everwood, and Balefire and Brimstone, were all written during past Novembers. The wonderful thing is that whether you finish or not, you’ll be closer to a completed novel than when you started. Souls of the Everwood was started in 2008, and I failed to write 50,000 words that year. While I only managed 8,000 words, I still ultimately completed the book. More importantly, I learned how much was happening in my life which didn’t help my writing, and how to make more time to write. If you have lots of ideas, there’s never enough time to write. I look on the entire endeavor as a chance to clean house on my writing efforts and become more disciplined and organized. If you’ve been looking for a good excuse to finally write that novel, please consider National Novel Writing Month. It’s a tough but great experience. Read the rest of this entry
My Favorite Song from Kindergarten
I don’t remember as much about kindergarten as I’d like, but for the most part, what I do remember is good. My teacher was phenomenal. She made me feel like I could do anything, and nicely explained when I asked why I couldn’t call her Jane. Mister M with the munching mouth was also a highlight, along with the rest of the letter people. I had a few embarrassing moments that I’ll leave off the internet, but one thing I do remember is my favorite song – Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell. (It beat out Up, Up and Away by the 5th Dimension and Top of the World by the Carpenters.) Read the rest of this entry
Sitting down to write
I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, working on The Darker Lord along with some freelance projects, and I have due dates in May and June. It’s been a crazy few months, and there are still other obligations, like my day job, being a Dad and obstacles like allergy season.
Still, one of the biggest obstacles I face is that feeling I get when I sit down and have to write. It’s a little like the picture to the left. I’m staring at my equivalent to the Death Star, a blank page.
It’s a terrifying experience which I think every writer has. Sometimes, you wonder who you are and where these ideas come from and are they any good? You do things even when you start writing and ask, “Should I have put a question mark at the end of the last sentence or a period?” You could even go through this entire sequence of events in your head where everyone wakes up, realizes that your writing is terrible, and you are laughed at ceaselessly.
I want you to know that it’s okay. Just write. It’s simple advice and you can find it all over, but it works. As soon as that blank page is filled with something, it gets easier. You can add to it or subtract from it or rewrite it a dozen times. In the Service of the King (A Crimson Hawks Adventure), started with a simple idea and became a two page short story that I wrote when I was twenty. I wrote the novel nineteen years later, so you never know what might happen.
All writers are afraid or nervous, but get started typing or writing with a pen and fill the page. It helps.
If you have the chance this weekend, April 28-30, please come see me at RavenCon in Williamsburg, VA. It should be a great time.
I’ll be be getting back to The Darker Lord now. All the best!
Event this Wednesday in RVA
I’ve spent 2017 buried in writing The Darker Lord, the sequel to Jack Heckel’s The Dark Lord. It has been a tremendous amount of fun, along with a tremendous amount of effort. Due in part to that and a number of other things, I’m a bit behind on blogging. However, if you are interested in catching up, I’ll be attending the James River Writers’ March Writing Show as one of their panelists. It should be a tremendous time and a great opportunity to meet a number of talented authors. Please click here for all the details.
Happy New Year a bit late plus lots of updates
First, I want to apologize to everyone who checks this blog. I have done a terrible job of blogging over the last two and a half months. Part of it was my day job, part of it was a nasty cold that lingered forever, and a lot of it was writing. Oh and there were some holidays…
So, the biggest news is that The Dark Lord is out in paperback! When John Peck and I wrote The Dark Lord, it was a shift for us from the fractured fairy-tales of The Charming Tales to a parody of epic fantasy. Probably our smartest decision was to put in as many references to geek culture as we felt the story could take, from Star Wars and Star Trek to World of Warcraft, Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings and a plethora of Dungeons & Dragons to boot. In addition, there’s what we believe is a pretty good fantasy story with some strong arcane mechanics behind it.
I’m hoping to do a launch party in February or March, though I need to remember to contact my favorite independent bookseller, Fountain Bookstore and coordinate efforts. We decided not to do a launch celebration in December due to the holidays.
Currently, John and I are working on the next two books in the series…The Darker Lord and The Darkest Lord, and we will let the world know release dates when we do. If they are half as much fun to read as they have been to write, we’ll be doing well.
I’ve got two big events in April. First, there’s the Hanover Book Festival on April 22, 2017 where I will join about 50 authors selling my books, doing signings, and meeting with readers at the Richmond Times-Dispatch building off 301 near Richmond, Virginia. I will also have a short story in the Hanover Writer’s Club anthology which should be on sale there. If possible, I may have the release of one of my Blue Oranda titles as well.
The following weekend, I’ll be in Williamsburg as a guest at RavenCon for the third year in a row. Mercedes Lackey, one of my favorite authors, is the guest of honor, and we should have a fantastic time. I’ll be doing a number of panels, although I’m not sure I’ll have a table. As we get closer, I’ll come up with something fun if you find me there.
Anyway, my apologies for going dark on social media. It’s been a bit overwhelming juggling the writing and life, but I think I’m back on the right track (no pun intended). I did complete Nanowrimo again, although it was a bit of a train wreck due to a freelance commitment, which I also completed. I definitely need to edit those 50,000 words before I share too much.
Thank you for visiting my blog!
All the best,
Dungeons, Dragons and The Dark Lord
On November 1st, The Dark Lord, which I co-authored with John Peck under our joint penname of Jack Heckel (Wonder Twin powers, activate!), will be released as an ebook. It’s the start of a new series, unrelated to A Fairy-tale Ending and The Pitchfork of Destiny. It shares a sense of humor with The Charming Tales, but overall, it has a different tone, a touch darker and slightly more serious. The novel parodies epic fantasy, much in the same way our first series has fractured fairy tales.
In the book, Avery Stewart, grad student at Mysterium University, has assumed the identity of the Dark Lord on the sub-world of Trelari, a world similar to Middle-Earth, Azeroth, the Forgotten Realms, Krynn, the world of the Belgariad or any of a number of other fantasy novel settings. His purpose is to cause the Heroes of the Age to unite to defeat him, basically inoculating the world from evil, like a vaccine causing the body to protect itself from disease. Everything goes well, and with a few days to go, he leaves his experiment running. When an undergrad, Vivian, steals the key to Trelari’s reality, Avery has to go back to Trelari to set things right. The problems? His only ally is his roommate who made a boardgame out of his dissertation. Without the key to reality, he has to follow the rules of the sub-world, which means, among other things, going to a bar and recruiting a group of adventurers. The final problem? He’s allied with the same heroes who fought him as the Dark Lord.
And that’s not to mention dark riders, gelatinous slimes, golems, trolls, gnolls, and a plethora of traps… and more. Read the rest of this entry
Once Upon a Time with… Liana Brooks!
Hi everyone! Today we have a special guest, Liana Brooks, author of the Time & Shadows trilogy. She’s one of our fellow Harper Voyager Impulse authors, and her third book, DECOHERENCE, wa…