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,
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
Finally, after what feels like forever, it’s only a week until the ebook release of The Pitchfork of Destiny. John and I finished the first draft of the book over a year ago, March 9, 2015 to be exact. It follows the events of A Fairy-tale Ending (Once Upon a Rhyme plus Happily Never After). Just as the first story started with the dragon, Magdela, impaling herself on a pitchfork, this sequel begins with the mighty dragon Volthraxus, finally flying south to court Magdela, only to discover her unfortunate fate. When he learns what happens, he decides to exact vengeance on Will Pickett, which leads Will to seek out the only man in the kingdom with any training in battling dragons. Of course, that’s Charming. However, Liz may be the one who has to save the kingdom.
My daughter has read the book and tells me that it’s even better than the first. We are going to be doing our best to get copies out to sites for reviews. I hope that if you like ebooks, you can pick it up from Amazon, iTunes or Barnes & Noble (clickable links included – except itunes which was being difficult). If you prefer paperbacks, I have excellent news. It is available for order through local booksellers, Barnes & Noble and Amazon on May 17th. If you haven’t read A Fairy-tale Ending, it’s a good time to get started on that one as well.
Thank you to all my readers. You keep inspiring me. Enjoy!
All the best,
In the midst of the excitement of Nanowrimo (and yes, I have a lot more to post on that including more Freedom Squad), I had a book release! On November 25th, the sequel to Once Upon a Rhyme, Happily Never After, was published as an ebook. It’s available on Kindle, Nook, iTunes and of course, Harper Voyager’s own website.
I’m extremely pleased to have the sequel out within a few months of the first book. In this book, the story started in Once Upon a Rhyme comes to its conclusion. We’ve been compared to The Princess Bride and Shrek by reviewers, which pleases me to no end, as that’s exactly what we were hoping for. If you enjoyed the first book, I’d love to know what you think about Book 2. I’m hopeful that in a time where Into the Woods is coming out as a movie and Once Upon a Time is on television, that these two books will be ones that people can discover and enjoy. Wishing everyone the best!
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
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.