Thank you.

On May 26, The Dark Lord was an Amazon Kindle Deal of the Day. There was no prior announcement. We hoped that it meant that we would sell some extra copies. We did what we could to inform people on Twitter and Facebook. What happened by the end of the day was utterly amazing. We sold far more books than we ever imagined. We even ended up as the top book in Epic Fantasy.

#1 in Epic

That’s us at #1 in Epic Fantasy on the Kindle store.

To everyone who helped spread the word, to everyone who took a chance on us and bought a copy, thank you. It was a great day. We are both working hard on The Darker Lord, and we will be following it up with The Darkest Lord. We hope everyone who bought our novel gets some good laughs and enjoys the references.

Twice the Author Jack Heckel Used To Be

Most people know that Jack Heckel is not one person, but actually the name that John Peck and Harry Heckel use for their writing team. If you didn’t know that, you know now. 🙂

Jack Heckel was a name proposed to us by Harper Voyager. For whatever reason, books written by co-authors don’t sell as well as books by a single author. So at our publisher’s urging, instead of John Peck and Harry Heckel (or J.H. Heckelpeck or Peck and Heckel), we became Jack Heckel. We still aren’t sure why they didn’t like our choice of J.K. Rowling as a name…

Now, both of us agree that we are Jack Heckel. We don’t divide up our writing and between all the edits we do, we both take full blame and responsibility for anything we write together, even if John did come up with that idea or Harry switched things around. We are both the author of The Charming Tales.

Where things get tricky are places like this blog and convention appearances. If Harry Heckel attends a convention as himself, no one knows that he’s Jack Heckel. Same for John. If Harry attends as Jack Heckel, then as happened at RavenCon this year, someone may be disappointed that they aren’t getting to talk to the real author. Of course, by that logic, John isn’t the real author either. Neither of us is (or are we?). It is a little strange when you are introduced to half an author. It’s also weird if you say, “Would you like to buy my book?” and someone says “That’s half of your book.” It’s even weirder when you are with other authors and a fellow author says “Hi, I’m an author, and sitting next to me is an author, and beside him is half an author.” Once we have two books out, do we stop being half an author each or are we perpetually consigned to half authordom?

And, as a reader, you don’t know whether John or Harry is writing this blog unless we tell you (it’s currently Harry at the keyboard).

Even stranger, we originally created a tongue-in-cheek biography for Jack Heckel. We like the thought of his Vermont lighthouse, but Harry lives in Virginia and John lives in California, and it’s a bit awkward when someone asks either of us what it’s like to have Bernie Sanders as our Senator or why we don’t attend a local book event in Vermont. But, more than that, we both want to connect with our readers. We’d like you to get to know us.

To that end, we are going to share a little more on this blog and identify each other more specifically going forward. I (still Harry) may even interview John (and let him return the favor). We’d like to share a bit about our hobbies and travels, and we hope that you comment. Please let us know what you think.

Also, just to catch everyone up, we’ve both spent most of this year working on our next book, The Dark Lord, a standalone novel that we intend to be book 1 of a new series. It’s about a grad student at a magical university who is trying to save the subworld of Trelari by rallying the forces of Good. His method of doing this: Becoming the Dark Lord. After his experiment ends, things take an unexpected turn and he discovers that he must work with the heroes of Trelari and jump through the hoops of epic fantasy tropes. Whether he can survive the Master of Dungeons, the Dread Semi-Lich, the Dark Queen herself and still complete his dissertation is another matter. And will his roommate Eldrin ever speak to him again? It should be big fun for the November 1st release.



Published… but now what?

Jack Heckel’s quest for publication began sometime in 2008, when we first had the idea for our novels. Most of the writing was done in 2009, probably bleeding into the early part of 2010. There were beta readers, feedback sessions, a long weekend of edits at a hotel in Maryland, and still more edits between 2010 and 2012. 2011 and 2012 were filled with rejections. We couldn’t even get out of the slush pile with agents.  Continue reading

Voyager Valentines: A Matchmaking Contest

Welcome to February, the month of holidays celebrating dead presidents, groundhogs and romance. After minutes of deliberation as to which of these three worthies to celebrate in blog form, I decided that groundhogs were obviously the most overlooked and therefore, the perfect candidate. No one suspects groundhogs! the_groundhog_by_backlash_wave-d4a0t5p

Fortunately, my fellow Harper Voyager authors pulled me back from the edge of groundhog blogging as they suggested we all do dating profiles for the characters in our books. So, romance, it is! (Alas, poor groundhogs!) If you suggest a match, you could win a prize! For my part, I’m willing to send out free e-copies or softcover copies if available of any two of my books, including Once Upon a Rhyme, Happily Never After or any books written by my Harry Heckel half (see such as In the Service of the King.  Prizes will be awarded February 16th! Just comment with a match from one of the other sites, name the other author’s site, and the character on this site for the match and voila, you have a chance to win. If you’ve finished Happily Never After, then you may know that at least one of these characters is off the market, but we’re having fun here. Who knows what the future may hold! Many of the other authors are also running giveaways, so if you suggest matches for their characters, you’ll have more chances to win prizes. The event runs until 16 February, so get matchmaking!

Voyager Valentines

Dating profile: Princess Gwendolyn Mostfair
AGE: Much older than I looks, but I look fantastic
JOB/CAREER: Going quite mad and seeking revenge for being left to linger sleeping in a Dragon’s Tower for a generation and being rescued by accident
WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN: Dream of my wedding day
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Trapping a fairy and gaining control of the Kingdom of Royaume
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION: My crystal which contains the trapped fairy and is the source of my magic
IF YOU WERE AN ANIMAL, YOU’D BE: Something beautiful, like a swan, but I can’t imagine being an animal. My destiny is to be queen and find true love. At least, that’s what was supposed to happen.
FIRST CRUSH: Prince Rupert Charming, the love of my older sister’s life, at least until the… (sob)
FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY: Playing with my sister, Rosslyn
EVER BEEN IN A FIGHT OR PRISON? Does being entrapped by a Dragon for over twenty years count? Of course, I’ve been in prison. How foolish! Don’t you know who I am?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CHILDREN? I can’t even find true love. When could I ever hope to have children? So many dreams, shattered.
GREATEST FEAR: That I will fail Rosslyn. That I won’t find true love. That everything that happened, my fairy tale story could mean nothing.

Dating profile: Prince Edward Charming

AGE: 21
JOB/CAREER: I’m Prince Charming, of course.
WHAT YOU DO FOR FUN: Depends on the day. I will say, I rather enjoy trying on new fashions. However, practicing couplet does cause me to lose myself on many an afternoon, and there’s always questing and defeating foul enemies. When you are as great as I am, everything’s fun.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Well, I suppose there was the time that I…ahem, does just being me count? I did compose an epic couplet yesterday after tea.
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION: The latest outfit designed for me by the Royal Tailor. By tomorrow, it will be passé, so I’ll have to have another designed.
IF YOU WERE AN ANIMAL, YOU’D BE: A lion or a peacock.
FIRST CRUSH: I don’t have crushes. Women have crushes on me. Well, there is that Elizabeth Pickett who I can’t quite get out of my mind, but she’s the sister of that fraud, Will Pickett, and she’s a commoner, but still, those eyes, that hair…
FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY: Stealing apricot tarts from the Royal Kitchen, but not that time I was caught by my father, the King.
EVER BEEN IN A FIGHT OR PRISON? I regularly triumph in tournaments, and men tremble when I walk onto the practice yards.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CHILDREN? I make sure that I smile and wave. Sometimes, I pat them on the heads if they appear to have clean enough hair so as not to soil my gloves.
GREATEST FEAR: Oh, you mean like not slaying the Dragon that I’ve been prophesied to slay? Like having some peasant named Will Pickett do it instead? Like finding out that everything I’ve been told that I was supposed to do, has been done without me? That my life has no meaning?

Now, here are the other participating authors to visit:

A.F.E. Smith (author of DARKHAVEN, coming July 2015)

Katherine Harbour (author of THORN JACK, available now)

Nancy K. Wallace (author of AMONG WOLVES, coming May 2015)

Ingrid Seymour (author of IGNITE THE SHADOWS, coming April 2015)

John Ayliff (author of BELT THREE, coming June 2015)

Lexie Dunne (author of SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS, available now)

Laura Liddell Nolen (author of THE ARK, coming March 2015)

Christi Whitney (author of GREY, coming April 2015)

Graeme Talboys (author of STEALING INTO WINTER, coming July 2015)

Terry Newman (author of DETECTIVE STRONGOAK AND THE CASE OF THE DEAD ELF, available now)

Brooke Johnson (author of the upcoming novel THE BRASS GIANT: A CHRONIKER CITY STORY, coming May 2015)

Bishop O’Connell (author of THE STOLEN, available now)

Check back later for more authors to be added!

The One Person I Wish Would Read My Book (This Week)…

I was spending some time wondering about how I could get more people to know about Once Upon a Rhyme and Happily Never After. I kept thinking if only the right person would read the book and tell the world, then everyone could know that a troll who only eats humans is a true humanitarian and/or debate whether dwarfs or dwarves is the proper pluralization with me.

But, who should it be?

Continue reading

Meet My Main Character – A Blog Hop

Welcome to the Meet My Main Character blog hop!

Thank you to Katherine Harbour for inviting me. She’s one of my fellow Harper Voyager authors and shares my love of fairy tales, inviting her readers into the world of Night and Nothing with Thorn Jack, a dark fantasy retelling of the ancient Scottish ballard, Tam Lin, set in upstate New York. You can find her book here: Amazon in harcover, paperback, Kindle and audiobook. You can learn more about her heroine, Finn Sullivan, and how she has to overcome tragic loss and find a way to outwit the supernatural at Katherine’s blog:

Thorn Jack

The main character of Once Upon a Rhyme is probably Will Pickett, a peasant who discovers the Great Wyrm of the South has died on his farm. For his entire life, he’s dreamed of being in a fairytale and he decides to take advantage of his opportunity to rescue Princess Gwendolyn, who has been held captive by the dragon for many years. Once he does so, he quickly finds himself lauded as the Dragonslayer by the people of the kingdom. After he becomes Lord Protector, he soon finds that he doesn’t know how to live up to expectations. Fortunately, he’s developed the instinct to bite his hand, slouch and mumble incoherently, or quote a bit of peasant wisdom when things get tough… wait. Hmmm.

Okay, well, Will’s skills probably don’t help much as he tries to live up to what the kingdom thinks a Dragonslayer should be. As his older sister, Liz, points out, the closest that Will has come to using a sword is threatening fence posts with a stick.

I’ve reconsidered. The main character of Once Upon a Rhyme is actually possibly (ahem) maybe Prince Charming. After all, the series IS called The Charming Tales. Charming is a paragon of virtue, excepting all those trysts with the ladies and well… okay, but as I said, Charming is the hero of the kingdom who will slay the dragon, but of course, he doesn’t and can’t really seem to do much right.

Charming does look incredibly dashing in teal hose, and not many men can pull that off.

That didn’t help, did it?

Okay, the main character could be Liz Pickett, Will’s older sister, who finds herself caught between her brother’s dreams, Charming’s desire to expose Will as a fraud, and comes into conflict with a slightly mad Princess who wants revenge for being left in the dragon’s clutches for decades. That might sound better.

In the end, I’d love for everyone to continue the blog hop by going to visit Lexie Dunne.

Lexie Dunne is a woman of many masks, all of them stored neatly in a box under her bed. By day a mild-mannered technical writer and by night an adventuress and novelist, she keeps life interesting by ignoring it and writing instead. She hails from St. Louis, home of the world’s largest croquet game piece, and SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS is her professional debut into the world of caped crusaders, a journey that started when her father took her and her brother to see The Rocketeer.

A masked woman dropped by and let me know that Lexie’s ultra-top secret blog is hidden at:

Superheroes Anonymous



Cover for Happily Never After

Hi everyone,

We’d like to thank Katherine Harbour for linking to us on her blog hop.Tomorrow, we’ll have our version of Meet Our Main Character featuring Will Pickett from Once Upon a RhymeToday, we’re glad to say that the cover for our second book, Happily Never After has been revealed. Like Once Upon a Rhyme, it’s definitely distinctive. 🙂

Happily Never After