I’m guest posting over at SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog today – go take a look!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the main character of Once Upon a Rhyme. The post broke down into a heated debate between Will Pickett and Charming, and of course, an argument could be made that neither of them is the main character, but that it should be Liz instead. So the next question is: Who is the villain?
Not being rhetorical, it’s a difficult question. The dragon isn’t the villain of the piece. She dies in the prologue. Will and Liz Pickett, the peasants who own the field where she dies may turn the other way when Will gets praised as a dragon-slayer, but they are hardly villains.
What about Charming? He’s arrogant, prideful, pig-headed, utterly vain and determined to expose the Pickett siblings as frauds. Or at least that’s where he starts out. As his world continues to shatter, several readers (and at least two of who are authors in their own rights) have told me that they found themselves pulling for Charming. The series is named after him, after all.
Rescued Princess Gwendolyn has lots of issues. It’s easy to blame her for everything, but she was left imprisoned for a generation. Is it truly her fault when she realizes that everything she believed was a lie? When she asserts herself, is she being a villain or trying to find justice the only way she knows how?
If there’s someone besides Charming or Gwendolyn who should be considered the villain of Once Upon a Rhyme, please vote or comment below. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks! [polldaddy poll=8359135]
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 Rhyme. Today, 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. 🙂
Once upon a time, way back in 2009, John Peck and Harry Heckel decided to write a book about a fairytale gone wrong.
In one week, that book will be published as Once Upon a Rhyme.
It feels incredible, and it feels like it’s going to take forever. There’s this overwhelming sense of “We should do something.” Have we been promoting it enough? Do we send emails to every person that we’ve ever known since elementary school to ask them if they own a Kindle or Nook and would be interested in buying a book? Should a new blog post appear on JackHeckel.com every few hours? What about Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter? What is Snapchat really and how do I use it? Does Jack have an Instagram account? How big is the Internet? What if all the people who were at GenCon don’t recover in time? Will Doctor Who fans even notice since the new season starts only three days before? What songs are on Awesome Mix #2 and will a dancing baby Groot toy come out on our release date? (Don’t know and probably not.)
*deep breath* Okay, better now. Well, we aren’t going to panic… yet. In some great news, the price has gone down to $1.99 on release, so that’s good news and if you are one of the wonderful people who have pre-ordered, our understanding is that you will have the lower price. Thank you.
So, back to the question on what to do? Well, mostly we are going to prepare. After the release, we intend to have a lot more material on the blog covering deleted material and interviews with our characters and some thoughts on the sequel.
Charming: Finally! I see that my public awaits. You know, that Voyager free sample was great, but of course, you did leave the chapters on me out of it.
JH: Wait, Charming. I’m afraid that we aren’t doing an interview today. We’ll do some after the book release.
Charming: James, I’m sure that…
JH: It’s Jack.
Charming: Please, no interruptions. Now, as I was saying Jesse, I had this entire outfit specially designed for this interview. Do you see how I’m using teal as an accent with this sash? Of course you do. It’s really quite awe-inspiring. Now, now, don’t worry too much about the praise you need to lavish on me. Words can’t possibly do me justice.
JH: Um, it’s Jack and no one on the blog can see you. But, maybe we should start by talking about the Dragon?
Charming: *pales slightly* Yes, well, I’m sorry, Jules, but I’m going to have to cut this interview short. I’m extremely busy, and furthermore, you don’t have any apricot pastries in this interview room and I told my idiot squire that I wasn’t available to do interviews unless there were apricot pastries. Farewell.
So, there you go as a sample of what’s to come. We hope that everyone enjoys the book as much as we enjoyed writing it.
One week to go…
As we count down to our San Diego Comic-Con panel (in 2 days), we have some great news! A rough draft of the prologue and chapter 1 of Once Upon a Rhyme are available free in Voyager: A Science Fiction and Fantasy eBook Sampler from Harper Voyager US. It’s a long title, but you can reach it if you click here. And the good news is that it’s FREE!
In addition to Jack Heckel, there are pieces from a number of great authors, including Kim Harrison and Richard Kadrey, a total of 15 excerpts in all. It’s a great way to browse a number of upcoming and current releases.
However, the Once Upon a Rhyme excerpt was taken from a time when we were in between copyediting, so we want to warn everyone that there are some grammatical errors and typos. These have all been fixed in the polished final version, coming out August 26th. Anyway, it’s a free sampler and a great chance to be introduced to a number of fantastic authors.
May your dreams come true,
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.
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.)