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
“Don’t buy this book” and other writing updates
As I start to write this, I have 17 minutes left of the one year publication anniversary of Once Upon a Rhyme. With the possible exceptions of Umbra: The Velvet Shadow (my first major roleplaying book) and Sons of Fenris (my first published novel), nothing has had a larger impact on my writing life. Since that day, I’ve been a guest at the New York Comic Con, a guest at my local game and sci-fi/fantasy convention RavenCon, had a sequel published (Happily Never After) and written a third book, Pitchfork of Destiny. I’ve had other works at least be considered in the office of a major publisher, and it appears likely that I’ll have a new series start in 2016.
What a year!
And on August 25, 2015, Jack Heckel has another book – A Fairy-tale Ending! And that’s the one that I want to warn everyone about. If you own Once Upon a Rhyme and Happily Never After, please DON’T buy that book! It is a collection of those two books together in one place, and hopefully in a month or two, it will be released in paperback. I just don’t want anyone getting confused and thinking that it’s the third in the series. That will be Pitchfork of Destiny coming in December.
However, if you know someone who hasn’t read the series, please recommend A Fairy-tale Ending, because it contains both books, and a cool map along with some additional editing. If they haven’t started the series, it’s a good way to be caught up on everything. I guarantee that they will laugh.
I also want to thank everyone who has helped me over the years to keep writing. So many of you have inspired me and continue to do so. Thank you. Read the rest of this entry
Life, Lunch and a Lot of Rambling
My life’s been very exciting lately. I’m changing jobs in my not-so secret real world identity. Happily Never After just made it through an editing deadline. I’ve written a few interviews and scheduled a couple of events to promote Once Upon a Rhyme. That’s not to mention that my daughter started school, and I’m dealing with car issues. Oh, and I’m spending way too much time trying to watch Amazon.com sales numbers (that way leads to madness) and trying to find reviews of Once Upon a Rhyme. Also, I need to keep working on the as-yet mostly untitled book 3. Exciting times.
Despite all the excitement, I managed to find a Saturday afternoon where I was able to have lunch with Bishop O’Connell, the author of The Stolen. I’m still working on reading his book (sorry, Bishop), but if it’s half as cool as he is, I have no doubt it will be great. I’ve put the link above, but included his awesome cover below.
We had a fun conversation for three hours where we talked about influences and how we got started. I’m going to invite him to an interview in the near future, either here or at http://www.jackheckel.com, but one thing that he said which stuck with me was (and I’m paraphrasing), “Once you’ve been published, your work really increases.” I admit that when Once Upon a Rhyme came out, I felt like I was done, but Bishop’s right, everything’s just beginning.
I’m scheduling events – so far I’m going to be at the Baltimore Book Festival on September 27th and I’m planning to be at RavenCon in Richmond, VA in April. I’m trying to get a number of other events scheduled, but I’m waiting for confirmation. Hopefully, I’ll have more announcements soon. If anyone out there would like a fantasy/sci-fi/RPG author to be a guest, please let me know.
The reviews have been the scariest and best part of everything. Of course, I’ve noticed lots of misplaced commas or awkwardly-worded sentences in my perfectionist mode. However, it seems everyone’s enjoying Once Upon a Rhyme. Here are some quotes from the Amazon reviews:
Thank you to everyone who has given it a review and here’s hoping that there are a lot more to come. If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, please tell someone else about it. The more people who read it, the better the chances that Will, Liz and Charming will have more adventures.
Oh, the other thing I need to do – write more blog posts! Thanks for understanding and I’ll keep striving to do more.
All the best,
Once Upon a Rhyme – A few days after publication
First off, thank you all for purchasing Once Upon a Rhyme and for all the reviews and feedback and shares on the internet. Since it was published last Tuesday. I’ve written answers to interview questions, worked on marketing and social media (though neglected my own blog), and I’ve been involved in edits on Happily Never After. Both John and I are doing our best to make sure that the sequel is out early November.
Today, I’ll be at American Family Fitness in Mechanicsville with a table at their block party, talking about the Charming Tales and selling my small press books. It should be a fun way to spend Labor Day. If you live in the area and are looking for something to do before 2pm today, come out and visit. My daughter tells me that they have a bouncy house. 🙂
A special shout out to Kyran and Cathy for their Amazon reviews! Thank you both!!
The Long Night
By the time I wake up tomorrow, Once Upon a Rhyme will be e-published. It seems like such a huge turning point in my life. All the characters that John Peck and I created become real somehow tomorrow. People that I’ve never met will talk about them. Someone who I don’t know will laugh at my words.
I want to thank everyone. My co-workers at every job I’ve ever had, my relatives, more friends that I can count, classmates, all my fellow Harper Voyager writers who feel like siblings to me, and the writers and editors who’ve made me better over the years. I’ve called and spoken to a few people, but there are so many more.
Thank you all.
For everyone out there who is writing or has written a book, please don’t give up. It’s taken me over 20 years to get here. I know that there are talented, brilliant people out there with incredible stories who feel like they can’t get a break. To all of you, keep writing. It can happen.
Tonight, I was cleaning my shed, which wasn’t something that I intended in any way, shape or form. I found an old folder in a storage box, and inside was a spiral notebook filled with short stories that I had written when I was 13. It seemed so very appropriate that on this of all nights, I’d happen to find that beat-up notebook, cover long gone, containing some of my first attempts at writing stories.
I’m not going to sleep much tonight, but I’m wishing everyone the best of dreams. And please, whatever dreams you have, don’t give up on them. And if you have given up, don’t be afraid to chase new ones.
All the best,
Interview with both halves of Jack Heckel
A.F.E. Smith interviewed John Peck, my Once Upon a Rhyme co-author, and myself on her blog. It’s a really fun interview where we are asked what books we’d take with us to a Barren Island. Please click here and check it out.
Two days to go until the eBook release of Once Upon a Rhyme! The two links on this post are for Harper Collins and Amazon respectively.
Hanover Book Festival – This Weekend!
I’ll be attending the Hanover Book Festival this weekend on Saturday, August 9th. The festival is taking place in the gym at Liberty Christian School (8094 Liberty Circle, Mechanicsville, VA 23111) and there will be numerous authors there, ready to meet with the public from 10am to 2pm with plenty of books to sell and sign. I suspect there will be a number of door prizes.
One of my fellow authors, Wayland Smith, will be coming down from DC with copies of his book, In My Brother’s Name, and he’ll be available to talk about HeroNet Files, which will also be available of course. He’s scheduled to be on a couple of panels at DragonCon in Atlanta this year, and this should be a great opportunity to talk with him.
I’ll have a computer available if anyone wants to order eBooks, and I’ll not only be there as Harry Heckel (with all my Blue Oranda books), but representing Lee Lightner for my Space Wolf novels, and Jack Heckel (I go by J. Heckel) for Once Upon a Rhyme coming out August 26th. I really want to thank Harper Voyager for sending me items to hand out and hopefully a few fun surprises.
Anyway, I’m very excited, and I hope that if you have the chance that you’ll take a little time to come out and see us. Again, there will be lots of other authors as well, so even if fantasy/sci-fi isn’t what you enjoy, please come visit.
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.
Read the rest of this entry
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.