Update on The Pitchfork of Destiny

y648This is more of an update than a true blog post, but it’s been since December, so it seemed like a good time to reconnect with the world.

We’ve been diligently working on edits and revisions to Pitchfork of Destiny which is now The Pitchfork of Destiny (and will have an updated cover). We have the green light for publication and everything is set for an April 5th ebook release. We’ll update everyone when we hear about the paperback.

The best way to ensure we’ll have a paperback early is to tell as many people as you can to pick up A Fairy-tale Ending, preferably by ordering through your local bookstore. If you are in Richmond, VA, Fountain Bookstore carries the novel and can get signed copies for you.

We’re working on a new series right now, with the first novel tentatively entitled The Dark Lord. We’re looking to do what we did with fairy tales to epic fantasy, with a few twists.

Thanks for all the support and feel free to ask any questions with a comment.

 

We’ve achieved couplet… I mean paperback!

Fairytale EndingA quick note to everyone. Yesterday saw the ebook release of A Fairy-tale Ending, which collects Once Upon a Rhyme and Happily Never After in the same volume. It includes some edits and a new map. If you haven’t read the other books or you want to introduce someone else to the fun of The Charming Tales, start with this one.

We received even more good news when we received a release date for the print version of A Fairy-tale Ending. On October 13, Liz and Will Pickett, Charming, and Gwendolyn will step beyond the electronic world into paperback. It’s a dream come true. Thank you to everyone who bought our books, those who have recommended our books to others, and a special thank you to those of you who posted reviews. More details to come on this book, Pitchfork of Destiny, and possibly a new series starting in 2016.

All the best!

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: Katherineharbour.blogspot.com.

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: http://dunnewriting.com.

Superheroes Anonymous

 

 

Collaboration – The Charming Way

The question that comes up when people learn that Jack Heckel is the pen name of two different people is: how do you collaborate?

It does seem right for a comedic fairytale to have some collaboration. After all, the Brothers Grimm were collaborators.

Best photo we could find

Best photo we could find

For us, everything starts with communication. Before we do anything, we make sure that we have a shared vision. We bounce ideas off of one another and then when they coalesce, one of us writes an outline and we review it together. This part is essential. By agreeing on the direction of the book, we have a baseline to discuss changes. If Will Pickett needs to change from a dreaming peasant, does our plan allow his character to develop? Without a written outline, we’d be lost.

After we review the outline, we decide which chapters we’d like to write and present them to one another. If there’s a conflict, John always wins… I mean, Harry always wins… okay, we actually discuss our ideas for the chapter and so far, we’ve come to a consensus. We try to divide the work so one person isn’t writing while the other person is waiting.

Once the writing begins, we write the chapters in order. After one of us finishes a chapter, it is sent to the other writer for a rewrite. Every chapter in the first draft is rewritten. This allows us to keep the same voice throughout the book. Additionally, whoever rewrites the chapter embellishes and even changes parts of the text. It then goes back to the original author for edits. And all this is before any beta readers or editors have had a chance to look at it.

All of that sounds nice, but of course, nothing works perfectly. We’ve had plenty of situations where one or the other of us has gotten stuck. Day jobs and personal crises can also interfere with our well thought out schedule. When either of us runs into trouble, we text, get on the phone or even Skype or Facetime each other. Rarely, we might even meet in person, but we are several time zones apart. After talking through things, we may make some trades or one person takes on some extra work. We’ve both finished chapters that the other has started and stepped in to help tear down the other’s writing block.

We agreed when we started that our partnership isn’t 50-50, but 100-100. Our goal is to have 100% written by both of us. We don’t keep score of how many words one person has written or even how many chapters. Honestly, how do you place the value on a single great line or idea which changes the course of a novel? Is that worth five words or fifty thousand? In our case, neither of us care, because the whole thing belongs to both of us.

Our conversations are hilarious. We spend the entire time finishing each other’s sentences when the ideas fly fast, as we both try to come up with the same concepts. Fortunately, we have a fantastic friendship and usually such things only result in laughter.

So, ultimately, Once Upon a Rhyme, really wasn’t written by Harry or John, but by Jack Heckel, who has his own unique voice, and one we both hope you enjoy. At this stage, we’ve lost track of who wrote the last version of this scene or that. We both remember who wrote the initial scene or chapter most of the time, but once the rewrites and revisions started, it all goes to happy madness.

If anyone out there is trying to collaborate on a fiction piece and would like more details, please feel free to comment and we’ll be glad to help (or well, try to help at any rate.)

Once Upon a Rhyme…

Once upon a time…

The Charming Tales were born about five years ago in a time before the world had gone fairytale crazy with Frozen and Maleficent (two movies that I adore) or even Tangled or Once Upon A Time. Inspired by lots of stories from childhood, along with The Princess Bride, Shrek and books like Piers Anthony’s Xanth series and Robert Lynn Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye’s Myth Adventures, The Charming Tales were meant to be a fun, comedic trip through fairytales. Like most comedy, there are some serious and dark issues lurking beneath the surface, but exploring the darkness is half the fun.

The concept for the series began with the thought, “What if someone besides Prince Charming rescued the princess?” From there, it morphed through a dozen rewrites, as a few very assertive characters (I’m looking at you, Liz and Elle) took their rightful places in the tale and what began as a series of misadventures between the peasant, Will Pickett, and Prince Charming, became something far more. Despite this, it suffered even more rewrites and multiple rejections.

Today, Harper Voyager Impulse announced the publication of Once Upon a Rhyme.

Dreams do come true.

So, thank you to everyone. Books don’t write themselves, and authors don’t exist in a void. So very many people help from amazing editors to supportive families to those friends who won’t let you give up to the people that you’ve never met who read the book or are taking the time to read this blog. Thank you all.

For those of you who are aspiring authors, never give up. It can happen.