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Dungeons, Dragons and The Dark Lord

darklord-final-coverOn 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 DestinyIt 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

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“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 DestinyI’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, 2015Fairytale Ending, 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

Happily Never After Released!

Happily Never AfterIn 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!

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

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