I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, working on The Darker Lord along with some freelance projects, and I have due dates in May and June. It’s been a crazy few months, and there are still other obligations, like my day job, being a Dad and obstacles like allergy season.
Still, one of the biggest obstacles I face is that feeling I get when I sit down and have to write. It’s a little like the picture to the left. I’m staring at my equivalent to the Death Star, a blank page.
It’s a terrifying experience which I think every writer has. Sometimes, you wonder who you are and where these ideas come from and are they any good? You do things even when you start writing and ask, “Should I have put a question mark at the end of the last sentence or a period?” You could even go through this entire sequence of events in your head where everyone wakes up, realizes that your writing is terrible, and you are laughed at ceaselessly.
I want you to know that it’s okay. Just write. It’s simple advice and you can find it all over, but it works. As soon as that blank page is filled with something, it gets easier. You can add to it or subtract from it or rewrite it a dozen times. In the Service of the King (A Crimson Hawks Adventure), started with a simple idea and became a two page short story that I wrote when I was twenty. I wrote the novel nineteen years later, so you never know what might happen.
All writers are afraid or nervous, but get started typing or writing with a pen and fill the page. It helps.
If you have the chance this weekend, April 28-30, please come see me at RavenCon in Williamsburg, VA. It should be a great time.
I’ll be be getting back to The Darker Lord now. All the best!
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,
On Sunday, April 10 from 1:30 until 4:00 pm, I have the honor of being a guest at the Writer’s Voice benefit, a fundraiser for Virginia Voice. I’m very thankful to the Hanover Writers Club for this opportunity.
The mission of Virginia Voice is “To connect individuals with disabilities to information using technology and the human voice” with “Eyes for those who cannot see… hands for those who cannot turn pages.” They read newspapers, magazines and books and broadcast them over select radio frequencies. By giving out pre-tuned radios set to receive those frequencies, they enable people who have lost their sight recapture their enjoyment of the printed word. Founded in 1978, Virginia Voice serves about 3,000 listeners in Central Virginia and 1,000 in the Norfolk area thanks to the generosity of many dedicated donors and volunteers.
The Writer’s Voice benefit is open to the public and will include local authors with books available for purchase as well as aspiring writers and Hanover Writers Club members who simply wish to support this effort. There will be speakers from Virginia Voice as well as two notable authors, along with refreshments and door prizes. It’s a great chance to meet local authors, ask questions, do some networking, have fun and support a good cause – all at the same time. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds beyond reimbursement for expenditures will go to Virginia Voice.
If anyone is in the Richmond area and would like to attend, please go to www.virginiavoice.org for tickets. I will have some copies of A Fairy-tale Ending to give away, as well as several Harry Heckel books (such as the Crimson Hawks and Krueger series) for sale.
I also want to mention that in an effort to maximize the donations to Virginia Voice, The Hanover Writers Club and Virginia Voice welcome any businesses or individuals who would like to sponsor this event through monetary or food donations.
I decided against all possible reason not to quit and keep writing. By a major miracle, I managed to write 39,000 words in ten days and won. You can see the graph on the right.
Never give up.
I’ve very pleased with myself, but also horrified slightly about how stubborn I can be. Nonetheless, mission accomplished, and I have a new Krueger novel to edit this year. I don’t recommend this approach to Nanowrimo. Read the rest of this entry
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
I’ve been away from the blog for too long between writing and allergy season (which deserves a blog post all its own). I wanted to let everyone know that I will be a guest at RavenCon in Richmond, VA over the weekend. Check out www.ravencon.com for details of the event. I’m looking forward to getting to meet lots of people and seeing some old friends.
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!