PLEASE WELCOME Jeny Heckman to my blog. Jeny is an award- winning fantasy paranormal romance author best known for her Heaven & Earth series, an award- winning fantasy- paranormal series. Her debut novel, The Sea Archer, published in October 2018, won “Best in Category,” at the Chanticleer International Book Awards. Her second book of the Heaven &Earth Series, The Warrior’s Progeny won First Place Best in Category at the 2020 OZMA Book Award and is a finalist in the 2021 RONE Awards Paranormal Long Category.
The Warrior’s Progeny also won “Best in Category” from the Chanticleer International Book Awards for the Fantasy Romance genre, as well as earned the Crown Heart of Excellence from InD’Tale Magazine.
Her standalone Women’s Fiction novel, entitled Releasing the Catch, was a finalist in the Feathered Quill awards, likewise received in 2020.
Jeny loves working with her charities, which include Hospice of the Northwest, the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation, the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and the American Cancer Society. Jeny lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over twenty- eight years.
Here are some questions that we asked Jeny
What is your guilty writing procrastination secret?
This is the best question because I’m not sure I’ve learned it yet. I’ve been known to procrastinate a lot, or maybe just get distracted by shiny objects easily. One of the things I do to try and counteract it is to reduce the distractions. Go into the Mac focus mode and turn off all notifications. I turn off my phone too and set up my space so it’s conducive for success (i.e., instrumental music, all my lights and lamps on, candle going, etc.), all in an effort to not get distracted.
I would love to hear from the readers if they have any helpful tips for this!
What does your writing space look like?
I want to say organized…but most of the time is messy. It’s usually messy but today was one of my better days.
How do you come up with the titles of your books?
They have to do with the combinations of Greek/mortal characters. For Warrior’s Progeny, the couple are Strength in Family. The main couple are descendants from Ares, God of violent war, a warrior, and Hera, goddess marriage and childbirth, or progeny.
Do you work with an outline or just write?
I start by creating an outline and the major plot points I want to hit. However, how I get there is very “pants” driven. Many times, it takes me in a new direction.
Describe your writing in three words.
Realistic language, empowering, adventurous
What hobby do you miss most from your childhood? Why?
Pure creativity in general. I was taught creativity by my parents. My father taught me and my sister to draw at night, after he’d get home from work. My mom encouraged imagination in amazing ways. For example, she sewed and had these Almond Roca tins full of buttons. We’d sit down and watch Happy Days or some other show, with our tin, and she’d say create a floor plan of your future house and we’d outline the house in buttons or draw a face or the like. When I think back on it as an adult, they gave us the gift of their creativity. Not many kids get that. I miss those simple times when anything and everything was at your disposal if you have a little creativity and your own creative mind.
Were you an avid reader as a child? Do you still read books?
I was a voracious reader. I read everything, all genres. When I was very little, they had these Little Golden Books, and they came with a mini record (aka vinyl) in them. You could play the flimsy thing on your record player, as you learned to read by hearing the words and their tempo, while you looked at the words and pictures. Essentially using most of your senses except for taste. As an adult, I don’t get to read as much, just because I’m very busy, but I do listen to books on audio, when I drive up to our boat, or do chores, etc. It’s comforting two- fold, because I get to still experience the stories while bringing back a little of my childhood!
Are you a “re-reader” or are you a “read-it-once-and-I’m done” person?
Great question I am a re- reader with books I love! Outlander, anything by Sophie Kinsella or Darynda Jones. In fact, most of my fantasy books I’ve read multiple times. You always pick up something different each time you read it, depending
on where you’re at in life. I just re- read Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None. I hadn’t read that since I was young and forgotten who had done it in the end. I was amazed at how brilliantly she spun that tale, for as old as it is. A true story- teller, and way ahead of her time.
How did you begin writing your first story? Did it ever get published?
I’m sure I’ve written a million stories in my head. My first official story was entitled the Catch. I wrote it just to see if I could and at a very hard time in my family’s life (my father- in- law was dying of non- Hodgkins Lymphoma). I also had two teenagers who were also busy with school activities and sports, so sat on the book for a long time until my son told me I should publish it. I did. However, at the time, I didn’t really know the craft of writing and the book was full of mistakes. After I wrote a few more books and became a little more proficient, I went back to, the Catch and re- wrote it. That book is now entitled, Releasing the Catch. I’m thrilled it has come full circle with story arcs better closed and the writing of it more solid.
What challenges did you feel while publishing your debut novel of the series, the Sea Archer?
Well, the Sea Archer was the second book I’d ever written, and it was picked up by a publisher. Writing not only for yourself, is more challenging. I had to get rid of things I felt made the Greek mythology connections clearer and couldn’t choose my covers and the like. So, while it’s really wonderful having people to help guide me in the craft and process, it’s also more challenging to write. In terms of writing the book, it was very easy, and absolutely flowed out of me. I enjoyed the research and even went to Kauai to do research and learn about the seals, climate, and geography, so the writing came from a place of knowledge.
How long did it take you to develop the complete plot of The Warrior’s Progeny?
From the ending of the Sea Archer to releasing the Warrior’s Progeny took two years. A large chunk of that time was going through the editing process with my publisher and being on their timeline to release it. That being said, when I released the Sea Archer, I just spent two months in the UK and Ireland and that was a trip of a lifetime. It took me a while to settle down and start writing again. So, a large chunk of time was spent there as well. The actual writing of the second book took about three months.
Who inspired the character of Mack Carter in “Releasing the Catch”?
So, Mack has a very special place in my heart. As I said earlier my father- in- law, Chuck Heckman, was in the final stages of his life and I helped take care of him for the last three months. He was a boater, a true water soul, and love being out on the sea. My dad worked in Alaska during the summers growing up to work in some of the most remote fishing areas. My husband likes to think he’s an Alaskan after living there for several months before we were married and usually taking most jobs, he can get there in our married life, as does my adult son, Charlie. My favorite show at the time was Deadliest Catch and my favorite captain was Phil Harris, who also died around the same time as Chuck. So, all these men, some to a huge degree and others less so, all churned in my mind, as did conversations I had with them. Aside from Phil, they were and are the most important men in my life. So, Mack is an amalgam of them all. There is an actual conversation in the book between Faith and Mack that occurred between myself and Chuck, almost verbatim. So, Mack is very important to me.
When writing The Heaven and Earth Series, did you know how it’s going to go, or did you make it up book by book?
I have plotted out the entire series. However, I create plot points then how I get there can change. Often, I will think I know where the story is going then a character will have a different opinion and switch things up. It’s fine with me and created some truly excellent scenes. As long as I hit my plot points, I’m cool with the changes. So, to answer the question… both.
Which leads to better comprehension and retention, listening to audiobooks or reading an actual book?
Wow, great question. I can tell you as a kid looking at the words, hearing them in my head via records, and seeing pictures gave me greater retention when I was learning. However, as I got older definitely reading alone was probably the best way. If I enjoy a book, especially in my thirties and forties, I would actually buy the book on audio, after I’d created or envisioned the characters and events in my mind. If the narrator was good, it only intensified the people and circumstances as fleshed out and fully evolved things.
Did you expect your debut novel to win best in category at the Chanticleer International Books Awards in 2018? What was your reaction?
No! That was so fun. I never would’ve believed the second book I’d written in my life would be up for anything, let alone win something. It was terribly exciting. My daughter Paisley was with me. Her love for reading rivals if not betters my own, and it was so fun to share the experience with her. She’s the one that turned around and said, “Mom, you won, go up there.” I just got word the Warrior’s Progeny is now a semi- finalist in the Chanticleer awards and I’m hopeful it will do
just as well. It won a Crowned Heart of Excellence from InD’Tale magazine and also up for a RONE award. Releasing the Catch was a finalist for the Feathered Quill award. It is really a heartfelt honor and makes me so happy to know my stories are well received!
What impact did covid-19 have on your writing career?
Well, I wrote four books. I’m an introvert and homebody, so Covid didn’t affect my day- to- day life all that much. However, my husband and I travel a lot, and do things on the evenings and weekends. So, in the wake of the shutdown, I had a lot more time to write. A friend and fellow Wild Rose Press author, Stephen King, from Australia, was part of the wildfires there in early 2020. He wanted to try and help raise money for the victims of the fires and asked our fellow, Roses, to submit short stories for an anthology. The support was so overwhelming, soon there was enough stories for three volumes. I wanted to help but struggled to find a story. I talked to my daughter who told me to write about Vegas. My family was in Vegas (four inside the concert and two inside Mandalay Bay) during the shooting at Route 91 in 2017. It’s our story from four different viewpoints and entitled, Dancing Through Tears, in volume two of the Australia Burns anthology. Wild Rose Press also published, the Warrior’s Progeny in July. Celtic Butterfly Publishing published, Releasing the Catch and August 4th, 2021, will publish Dee’s Cornucopia. That one is a novella written at fan request for the beloved character of Dee Taylor from the Heaven & Earth series. It’s her life story before the series starts.
What book would the book world never be the same without?
Wow! That is such a hard question because there are so many. In the fantasy world probably Harry Potter, because it redefined the genre and ignited a passion for the genre. Outlander is another one because it did the same thing for adults. Ann Rule made real- life horrors and evil become flesh and blood. Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult made happily ever afters uncertain. The Hunger Games gave new meaning to the word game- show. Jane Austen showed us love transcends time and is as relevant today as it was then. Actually, the answer is every book.
What is the best piece of advice you have received related to writing?
Write organically for your first draft. Just let everything you want to say flow out and onto the page. No matter how crazy, no matter how difficult it is to connect later, don’t worry about grammar or anything just get it out. Then piece it together for the second draft, and fine- tune it for the third. I loved that advice because it gives you the freedom to do what you love, which is to write.
Where did the inspiration for your current story come from?
This is the continuation of the Heaven & Earth series. These “questers” continue the saga. So, the first book, the Sea Archer built the foundation and this book, the Warrior’s Progeny, is strength in family. Each couple has tasks or things they need to learn or overcome.
What can we look forward to with your next writing project?
The next book, Soul Predilection is about Aphrodite and Hades, and their descendants. Because there are some hard things coming their way and a pretty big revelation that can thwart the Olympians, they need a desire to continue. Desire comes from Aphrodite. There’s a murder that occurs as well so of course, you need Hades!
Also, a fan-requested novella for the Heaven & Earth series comes out on
August 4th, 2021!!! I’m super excited to share this with my readers!
Wow, thanks Jeny. This has been a wonderful insight to your background and thoughts. Thank you for sharing!
Contact Info & Links
PRIMARY CONTACT INFO: