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Hanover Book Festival – This Weekend!

Hi everyone,

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 courseHe’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,

Harry

Guest Post – Wayland Smith on HeroNet Files

Welcome to my first guest post! I’m honored to have my friend and co-contributor to HeroNet Files, Wayland Smith visiting. Without anything further, here’s Wayland.

 

Howdy. I’m very excited to be a guest star here on Harry’s blog. Harry, in addition to being a good friend of many years, is one of my co-writers in HeroNet Files Book 1. HeroNet is a concept I created years ago in the process of fleshing out a shared world of superheroes that Harry and I have worked on together. HeroNet is an online database that heroes can access for information on various villains, groups, ideas on how to fight bad guys, and even ways to contact friendly scientists, gadgeteers, and medics.

Argent, one of the two main characters in this story, has a long history in many different incarnations reaching back to 1988.  I guess that means he can vote and legally buy a drink now. He’s a highly skilled fighter with a major attitude problem. In fact, his brief time on a hero team came to an end because of that, but that’s another story. While he’s very rough around the edges, Argent is definitely a good guy. He’d laugh at being called a hero, but he’s on the streets almost every night, fighting the good fight and protecting the innocent. The fact that he happens to really enjoy a good fight is just a bonus.

Cobalt Rose is a novice hero, and Hunt the Tiger is mostly from her viewpoint. She’s something of an action junkie, and accidentally discovered the rush from protecting people. The story opens with her debut in costume, which, in the grand tradition of heroic first appearances, doesn’t quite go as planned. It’s a fun story, or at least I think so, with some twists and turns along the way.

HeroNet Files, Book 1, is just the beginning of stories set in this world. There will be a Book 2 at the very least, which Harry, Dara, and I are already planning, possibly with some new authors contributing. I also have at least one novel finished about Wildside, Inc, a band of superhuman mercenaries (don’t call them heroes!), and we’re looking into additional projects.

For myself, I have a novel out called In My Brother’s Name, about a terrorist attack on Washington, DC, that comes about because of a mistake someone made that they just can’t admit to. Things take a series of dark turns from there. I also have stories in a few different anthologies: This Mutant Life: Bad Company, another collection of superhuman stories, and Memorial Day – my story in that one shares the world of Wildside and Argent and Cobalt Rose. I also have a story in SNAFU: Tales of Military History, which is coming out later this year.

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of heroes. I write reviews of comic books for DCCollectors.com, and post about more general heroic topics on my website, watchtowermansion.com. I occasionally contribute to unleadedwriting.com, a group blog about writing in general.

Thanks to Harry for letting me come by and talk a bit, and thanks to you for reading.

Wayland Smith story contained within...

Wayland Smith story contained within…

Argent and the Cobalt Rose on the cover

Argent and the Cobalt Rose on the cover

 

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 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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Chapter 19 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 19

“Defiance!” shouted Rigel.

She was inside a burned-out building, picking her way around fallen walls and broken columns. Bare wires sparked from wall outlets and water sprayed from shattered faucets. The floor was covered with playing cards, each one of them showing the Ace of Spades.

“Bill!” she yelled.

She came to a window and saw a single building standing across the street. It was a single family ranch-style home, beige with brown trim, fairly non-descript, other than it was in perfect shape including a manicured lawn. Oh, and it was located in a ruined city between collapsing skyscrapers. An American flag hung off the porch.

“Well, at least it doesn’t appear too hard to figure out what’s important in his mind,” she said.

The Ace of Spades opened the door and stepped out onto the porch. “Hello, Rigel.”
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Chapter 17 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 17

“Last night, Freedom Squad may have been saving lives, but this reporter wants to know where Protector and Rockslide were? Are they recovering from injuries in their battles with Defiance, Death Queen and the other villains rampaging through the city? And in the meantime, progress continues slowly on cleaning up the monument to the original Freedom Squad. But first, news from the Northwest, where the hero team Vanguard defeated one of our escapees…”

Click.

Rigel turned off the morning news broadcast and put her boots up on one of the consoles in the Monitor Room. She groaned softly. “Why does the press have to be so difficult?” she asked no one in particular.

Rockslide rumbled beside her. He sat down heavily on the floor.

“I know,” Rigel thought to the massive stone superhero, “And I’m sorry, but you are a little hard to disguise.”

“I know,” he sadly thought in reply.

“Besides, you’ll have Starlight around if things get out of control, and you know what you need to do,” she thought back to him.

“Protect the Protector,” he thought back. “And put on a good show.”

“Right,” she responded. “Now, remember, what we are about to do is rather mad, but I need you to make it look good. I’d also like you to trust me with something. I want to alter your brainwaves slightly. Basically, I’m trying to make you less susceptible to mental attack. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Ace of Spades tries to do something to you once he figures out my plan.”
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Chapter 16 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 16

Ion had led Solaria and Snowfall on a tour of Freedom Squad Headquarters, assigned them both rooms at the base, introduced them to Starlight (who was in the Monitor Room) and Rockslide (who was working out with the mega-weight machine in the gym), made up something about Daniel Hunter being a technical advisor and had let them know about Protector.

It was the last part that had Snowfall upset.

“This is terrible. There’s got to something that someone can do to wake him up,” said Snowfall. “He took on Defiance by himself. He’s the Protector.”

“I know,” said Ion, as he finished updating the communicators that had been assigned to the two new members. “But, we’re up against some dangerous people. Dr. Lord is one of the best doctors that I’ve seen. The important thing for both of you to remember is that you don’t tell anyone unless Rigel says it’s okay. “

“I’m sure he’ll recover,” said Solaria.

“Yep,” said Ion, sounding much more confident about it than he felt.

Snowfall put his hands on his hips and lowered his head. “Protector was my hero growing up. When he died…”

“… you almost went crazy and decided that you were going to use all those ice and snow powers that you still can’t control and hunt down every super-villain in the country,” said Solaria, finishing Snowfall’s sentence.

“Yes, well, and then the current Protector took up the shield and joined Freedom Squad. I was skeptical at first, but he made me believe.”

“Was it the time he stopped Laserfist and his gang from robbing the Megalopolis National Bank?”

“No,” said Snowfall, “It was when the Dark Gladiator was fighting Freedom Squad. He was on one of the buildings and knocked over the water tower. Protector was on the ground and thousands of gallons of water poured down. A family had run out of the building, and Protector made it over to them and somehow, his shield…”

“His shield deflected the water, which shouldn’t have been possible,” said Solaria.

“Were you there?” asked Ion.

“No,” they both said together. Snowfall finished this time, “I saw it on the news. There was something about the way he made sure those people were okay after he saved them, even though the battle was still going on. It made an impact on me.”

“Yeah, well Protector can do that,” said Ion. “He’s my friend.” Ion glanced in the general direction of Protector’s room. “He’ll recover.” This time he was trying to convince himself.
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Chapter 15 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 15

Matt Johnson sat in a tired old recliner and stared at a feature article about up and coming American Olympic athletes. His photo was in the middle of page. He was holding a medal in one hand and wearing his Penn State colors.

That all seemed to be gone now.

He kept wondering how it had happened. Was it the diet? The training? Had someone slipped something in his drink?

The speed was one thing, but he had broken his own weight lifting record without breaking a sweat. He felt indestructible. He also felt healthier than he ever had. It was as if some magical genie had given him everything he had ever wished for when he was training.

And that meant he would never be allowed to win an Olympic gold.

The doorbell buzzed. Angrily, he got up. The reporters were wearing him out. It was late enough that he could be asleep. He wished that the whole thing had never happened. Stupid other coaches started going crazy. Coach Hudson, his coach, hadn’t said anything. He just seemed sad.

The last look Coach Hudson had given him stung him. It was betrayal along with dashed dreams, mixed up in a confused whole.

The doorbell buzzed again. “I’m coming,” Matt said, doing his best to move slowly.

Swinging the door open without checking the peephole, he didn’t know what to do when he found himself face to face with Rigel and Nightstar of Freedom Squad.
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Chapter 13B – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

More writing… Chapter 13 continues

An alert blared. “Unauthorized personnel at front gate,” announced the computer.

Solaria could be seen standing at the front gate, flames swirling around her. She had her arms folded in front of the sun symbol that she wore on her red bodysuit. Snowfall was clearly recognizable standing behind her and to the left, despite the fact that he wore a black trenchcoat over his costume and a black hat on his head.

Telekinetically, Rigel activated the front intercom. “7… 8… 9…“ said Solaria while flames crackled in the background.

“Solaria, this is Rigel. What are you doing?”

“It’s about time. We need to talk, and don’t I get a ‘G’Day’?”

“Sorry, it hasn’t been a good day. I’ll let you both in and meet you at the front door, assuming you’ve passed all the scans,” said Rigel. “Oh, and stay on the sidewalk. The grounds have mines.”

Rigel clicked off the intercom.

“I can talk to Solaria, if you’d like,” offered Ion with a grin. “I don’t mind.”

“I’m sure you don’t. Fine, you can come.”

After Solaria and Snowfall passed retina scans and made it up the sidewalk, Rigel and Ion greeted them at the front door to the mansion. Solaria was no longer projecting flames, but she seemed irritated enough to do so.
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