Category Archives: Charming

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,



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 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 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.


Nominated for an Award and some Updates

Hi everyone,

I’m still chugging along in Nanowrimo, running over 34,000 words. Charming, my fairy tale fantasy novel with the amazing John Peck, is still being considered by a major publisher. HeroNet Files looks good to be published before the end of the year, although I’m feeling guilty as the one who has slowed the project down. I’ve still got some roleplaying stuff going as well. For Crimson Hawks fans, the second book is still really close. I’m hoping to have it out first quarter next year.

I want to say that I’m really pleased that another blogger, Becka, nominated me for an award. I’ll do a full post on that as I want to do it justice, but I want to say thank you. I’ve added a link to her site on the links on my sidebar. She’s a very nice lady, and I encourage everyone to cheer her on as she tries to complete Nanowrimo.

All in all, things continue, and I’ll be trying to post on a regular basis. With all that said, there should be a new Freedom Squad post up in a short while.

All the best,


Charming done – Nanowrimo on the horizon

Great news on the writing front. Charming was successfully submitted to Harper-Collins Voyager, so we’ll see how it does. I’ll either have some good news in the next three months or not, but in any event, the rewrite is done. Blue Oranda is happy to wait in the wings, so one way or another, I plan to see Charming in print next year.

November is coming and that brings National Novel Writing Month. Both the Krueger and Crimson Hawks novels were born during this annual event, and I plan to participate again. I’m considering posting as I strive to complete 50,000 words and take everyone with me on the journey, but we’ll see. My first goal is to complete the novel, and I don’t want everyone to drop me on twitter.

I’d strongly recommend participating to anyone out there. It’s difficult but fun. I failed in my first attempt in 2008, but I’ve succeeded in every year since. It’s improved my writing, and it’s helped me to learn how to be productive.

My apologies for so few posts this month, but I’m hoping to post a lot more in the next two weeks. I’m also looking at updating the website and blog (including adding more pictures).

Thanks for reading,


Working on Charming

Hi everyone,

I had a great time at the Baltimore Book Festival. I hope to get to a full wrap up blog post, but there’s been a lot going on. First and foremost, I’ve been working on Charming which I’m planning to submit to Harper-Collins this weekend. There’s an excerpt in one of my earlier blogs.  That’s pretty much what’s been happening in writing for me.

I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Phil Brucato who is attending Howl-Con, a con dedicated to all things werewolfish. If I were anywhere near Portland, OR, I’d love to go between Werewolf: The Apocalypse and my Space Wolves. Arrroooo!!!

As far as supporting Werewolf goes, I highly recommend anyone interested to check out Kickstarter for the 20th anniversary edition of Werewolf.

All the best,


Baltimore Book Festival (and some other updates)

Hi everyone!

This weekend I’ll be attending the Baltimore Book Festival. It’s a great event with tons of authors and books for sale and an all around celebration of literature. Here’s the link. I’ll have both In the Service of the King and Souls of the Everwood for sale there at a special price for the event. I’m doing a book signing between 4:30 and 5:30 on Saturday, September 29 at the book sale booth for SFWA. My thanks to everyone involved in the organization, and I’m hoping that I might get a chance to see some of my friends from the Baltimore-DC area.

As far as writing, I’m making slow but continued progress on Charming and actually got some work done on Ashes and Cinders (Book 2 of the Crimson Hawks). I’m hopeful that I’ll have copies out for beta readers soon.

All the best,


Crimson Hawks is on paper!

Wonderful news today!

In the Service of the King is now available in physical form. It’s a little more expensive that way, but since paper and printing go into it, I think it’s understandable. I’m very excited.

Here’s the link below:

An update on Souls of the Everwood will be coming soon, and some good progress has been made toward publication on Charming.

June Update

My apologies for not getting much done on the blog this month. I’ve always read on blogs about how things come up to distract authors – now, I understand. I’ve included a little bit for everyone below.

First of all, work continues on all things related to the Crimson Hawks and In the Service of the King. I’m currently on track to have the book e-published before June 30. I’ve still got a bit to go on the second book, Ashes and Cinders, and the third book, Coins and Crusaders, was the subject of my Camp Nanowrimo attempt. It is currently stuck at a dismal 6000 words. Still, all in all, it should be a good month for the Hawks.

For my Games Workshop fans, I had a very good conversation with Jeff Smith, my Space Wolf co-author, earlier this month. I’m hopeful that we may be getting together sometime this summer to start work on another novel to propose to Black Library.

Souls of the Everwood has suffered some delays due to my distractions, but I’m thinking that it’s only about a month behind In the Service of the King. My current goal is to publish it before the end of summer. Krueger’s second book, tentatively titled Black Powder and Brimstone, shouldn’t be far behind.

I’ve made progress with getting some artwork for the cover of a superhero anthology that I’m working on with a couple of other talented writers.

White Wolf fans should check out the following blog. I’m excited about the possibilities of this new game, and hopefully, I’ll have a chance to work with a number of old friends and some very talented people.

Finally, I’m also close to seeing the publication of Charming, a novel that I’ve written with my friend John Peck. In this day and age of fairy tale mania, we’ve had our comedic fantasy novel written for a year and a half. With all the movies coming out about fairy tales, I promise that I have a story that will make you laugh and make you think at the same time.

Thanks for all the patience and I’ll see if I can’t get an excerpt from one of these works up here in the next week.

All the best!

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