Monthly Archives: June 2014
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.
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.