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Nanowrimo – FS Vigilance Chapter 1

More fun from the fast paced writing world of Nanowrimo…

Chapter 1

Rigel would rather have been fighting a dozen supervillains instead of facing the high-rise inferno in front of her. Flashing red lights and sirens surrounded her as dozens of firefighters worked together. The police were on the scene as well, keeping crowds and the press back. There were so many distractions, but she had to keep working.

She closed her eyes and focused, using her yoga breathing to stay calm, breathing in through the nose and out through the nose. As she relaxed her body, her mind continued to race.

Using her telepathy, she was trying to coordinate her team amidst the flames and smoke while attempting to locate the minds of anyone trapped inside. Protector was staying close to a group of firefighters inside the building, using his shield to protect them not only from the debris, but from the heat and even the poisonous gases. She shook her head slightly, as she recalled him telling her that he had no powers.

Nightstar had teleported to a higher floor where Rigel had sensed a mind. Although he appeared human, Nightstar didn’t need to breathe the way most people did. She vaguely wondered about what his world must have been like, before returning to her focus. He was almost in the right place.

Nightstar, the person should be through the next door on the left.

She felt more than heard his response. He was on his way. Read the rest of this entry

Juggling Identities

clark-kent-v-superman

As a writer, I’ve gone by three different names, Harry Heckel (my real name), Lee Lightner (when I collaborate with Jeff Smith) and most recently, Jack Heckel (when collaborating with John Peck). I’ve also considered writing in other genres and I have a few novels that if I ever sell, I may publish under yet more names. At the Baltimore Book Festival, I was asked how I keep track of my different selves, and I gave a short answer about being organized and branding, but I’m going to elaborate more here.

Today, writers have to do a lot of marketing. From writing blog posts like this one to keeping Twitter feeds going, to doing appearances and writing articles, it’s a lot of work. I keep recalling that fellow Harper Voyager author Bishop O’Connell told me (and I’m paraphrasing), “You’ve been published. Now the real work begins.” 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.

The Stolen

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:

“…the writers have pulled those tales apart and the spin they then put on it left me laughing out loud”
 “…recommend to those that enjoy a bit of humor along with a very non-traditional take on fairytales”
 “If you enjoy fantasy and fairytales and have a sense of humor, you will absolutely love Once Upon A Rhyme!”
“I was hooked after Chapter 2, and can’t put it down. Lyrical, fantastic, and pure enjoyment.”

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,

Harry

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.

Thanks!

HeroNet Files released

I’ve had my first superhero story published. I’m really excited, but before I get started, I want to thank Sam R. Kennedy for the tremendous cover that he created. If you’d like to see more of his work, you can click here to go to his website. He is a true professional and an absolute pleasure to work with. Additionally, I’ve invited my fellow contributors, Wayland Smith and Dara Hannon, to do guest posts about their novellas in the next few days.

So, this is your official warning that I’m potentially about to go into a fanboy crazed comic book rant.

My First Comic Book

My First Comic Book

The first comic book that I ever remember getting was Justice League of America #129 (that’s the first series). I’m not sure that I understood everything that happened, but I was shocked when (spoiler alert!) Red Tornado was willing to sacrifice himself to save a city. There were so many superheroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkman, Flash, of course, Red Tornado) with so many powers that I was completely hooked. I followed that up with The Incredible Hulk #200 (seriously awesome!) and Captain America and the Falcon #199. I was hooked. Spider-Man would soon enter my life. To this day, I love superheroes and comics.

During National Novel Writing Month, I wrote a sequel to my novella/novel in progress, Freedom Squad: Daughter of Orion. I’m hoping in the next year to have a couple of books come out for Freedom Squad, written at a Y7 level or so. Rigel is officially my daughter’s favorite superhero (though she’s second to Hermione Granger as far as idols). While this book is set in the same shared universe, it’s written for a more adult audience. For example,  there’s a sex scene in one of the stories as well as a human trafficking issue in mine.

When I wrote Hidden Strengths, I wanted to write an origin story about people who were discovering their powers and trying to benefit from them without being a hero or a villain. I was inspired by Spider-Man and his attempts at pro wrestling before he learned that with great power comes great responsibility. Scott, one of the protagonists, decides to get involved with a superhuman fighting league so he can earn money to pay for college. He’s a nice guy with something to prove who gets in over his head rather rapidly. Fortunately for him, he has the ability to absorb kinetic energy making him stronger and more invulnerable in the short term. Part of that energy stays with him, permanently changing him over the long term.

My other protagonist, Marisa, is probably closer to being a villain at the beginning rather than a hero. She has control over her own superhuman powers and has trained to use them for most of her life. Unfortunately, outside of combat, she’s a pawn of the people around her.

Both characters discover something they need in the other. For Marisa, Scott is one of the first decent people she’s met, and she desperately needs someone like that in her life. For Scott, Marisa bolsters his self-confidence and helps him find the strength to try and escape the world of superpowered combat. Unfortunately for both of them, the true villains of the piece aren’t going to let them walk or even run away.

There’s a lot of action in the story and hopefully, a solid superheroic origin.

HeroNet Files Book 1, is available on Amazon in print and Kindle versions, as well as Smashwords in about every other electronic format. It’s also available at Barnes and Noble in print and Nook formats.

HeroNet Cover

Chapter 27 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Nothing but Epilogue left after this. Thanks for coming with me on the Nanowrimo journey. I know the writing’s rough, but I hope everyone’s enjoyed. I especially want to thank all the new visitors who’ve come from the various WordPress.com sites. I wish you all the best in your writing. – Harry

Chapter 27

In another section of Ace’s under-mall base, Defiance was struggling to defeat his invisible foes. A metal wrap surrounded him and it was being using to spin him around while thousands of volts of electricity surged through him. He couldn’t keep himself oriented enough to find a way to fight back.

Nightstar watched Defiance spin even as he dodged energy blasts and missiles. Fortunately, he had a psychic sense that made him aware of dangers and tended to have an unnatural luck in these matters.

Coupled with the ability to teleport and lots of combat training, he was still standing.

Velocity had been the first victim of invisible electrical enemies, smashing into an invisible force field at full speed. Nightstar had gotten him out to the parking lot via psychic sword teleport. Solaria had fallen to a sonic blast next, but Nightstar had retrieved her as well. The only other member of his team standing was Defiance.
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Chapter 26 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 26

“How could you?” shouted Cori’s dad. “You let all those people in the mall die.”

Cori looked around. She was at home in Australia, a place that she hadn’t lived for years, but she was Rigel and in costume. “No, Dad, this isn’t you. I’m in my own mind being attacked.”

She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned. A black-gloved fist slammed into her jaw. She fell to the ground with the taste of blood in her mouth.

The Ace of Spades stood over her.

“You think I’m afraid of a fistfight?” she asked him.

“No,” he said, drawing a pistol from his belt, “but you’ll be traumatized by this.” He pointed the gun at her father and fired three times.
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Chapter 22 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 22

The mayor watched as the university’s reactor moved closer and closer to meltdown. One of the screens in the Monitor Room showed a white ace on a black background.

His hand flinched toward his own Freedom Squad communicator, but he didn’t know why. Everything was set in motion. There was nothing that anyone could do to stop it. Once again, the Ace of Spades had manipulated everything to his advantage.

Within a few short minutes, victory was assured.

An alert flashed on the Monitor Room’s internal security system. Someone was trying to break in, but he had changed all the codes.

“It will take Homeland Security hours to get in, and no one strong enough to break through those doors is around. Pity that I was trapped in here. Maybe I’ll blame it on Rigel and forgive her during the funeral,” he said.

With a whoosh, the security doors to the Monitor Room opened. A burning smell floated inside the room, as a man in a black bodysuit with flames on it walked inside. “Sorry, Mr. Mayor. I’m not a full-fledged member of the team and Rigel didn’t give me the security code. I’m supposed to make sure that you’re safe. I’m Velocity.”
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