When I was nothing more than a mere twenty-two-year-old boy-man, I was living in Alexandria, Virginia making my living waiting tables all the while telling people that I was a writer. It was at this time that a very good friend pointed out to me that in order to be a writer, I actually had to write something. It resonated with me, as truth normally does when it’s bluntly pointed out to a person. At the time, I’d never written a story longer than 5,000 words and the thought of writing an adult novel after being out of practice for so long was daunting.
That’s when I found Jack-o.
After buying a book at the bookstore (I don’t remember the title) that said it would help me write a novel in thirty days, I decided to write a young adult, fantasy/adventure novel(la). I didn’t have a computer at the time so I handwrote all 32,000 words (and let’s be honest, with this being my first “book” there was something romantic about the thought of holding my handwritten rough draft, which I’ve since then lost) in less than the allotted thirty days. I had my sister type it for me, before lightly re-reading and revising the story, and sending it to an editor I found on Craigslist.
On February 18th, 2012, I slapped a very unappealing cover on the front of my poorly formatted ebook and it was done. Helena. The second book in my Jack-o and the Amulet trilogy. Oh right, I didn’t tell you about the first in the series… because it hasn’t been created yet. I realized as I was finishing Helena that, even though it is a good story and fun read, it was a second book and needed much more backstory to fully be enjoyed and live up to it’s potential.
Once it was published I sat back and waited for Helena to start flying off the shelves. It did no such thing. It wasn’t until a couple years later, when I decided I wanted to make writing not just a dream and hobby but a real-life career; that I realized by publishing Helena, all I did was add to the pile of poorly self-published slush that has given independent authors a bad name. For this, I am sorry.
Since said realization, I’ve planned on re-working the story and re-releasing a proper version, as well as writing the first and third books. I was originally hoping to have it ready for publication in October of 2014.
The longer Helena stayed in syndication with that terrible home-made cover, the more I grew to dislike it (which only deterred me more from getting back to it). Not only were people not reading it, but to me, it was a blemish on the face of the professional self-publishing career I was trying to establish, and an ugly representation of what should be a fun and entertaining story.
The more I thought of getting back to the complicated world of the boy who can travel through books, the more I didn’t feel like thinking about it. I already had too many other things going through my mind. I’d just published my adult short story anthology, The Bird Room, I was starting my first full-length adult novel, and I was working at a job that I hated every minute of every day to afford this dream. Thus, Helena was eventually pushed to the back burner of, “one day…”
Well, to the reader’s in whatever parts of the universe these words are reaching, “one day…” has arrived! Not only, am I excited to find my way through the world of Jack-o and Helena, I’m excited to do it with you all, in real time.
The plan is to release the first book in the Jack-o and the Amulet trilogy titled (can you guess it) Helena. After much deliberation I realized I was wrong about the placement of this story, it is the first book in the trilogy, it just happens to be missing thousands of words. These words will be posted bi-weekly on Wednesday’s and Friday’s in half-chapters EXCLUSIVELY on WattPad. After the first two weeks, I will start posting full chapters every Sunday on my blog, www.chadhofmann.com, but they will always be a week behind the current WattPad release. I’ve had a new cover designed and will be releasing it with the first half-chapter of the book.
The currently published edition of Helena (excerpt below) will remain in syndication until the revised edition is finished. At that time, I will be condemning it to the grave of first drafts, where I feel it justly belongs, at peace finally.
In closing, I want to say that I don’t know what to expect from this project. I’ve never tried anything like it before and I promise to try and post on schedule barring any life-changing emergencies. I also would like to ask that you, the reader’s, bear with me through any grammatical/structural/spelling/etc. errors. This will be a living rough draft of what should be an incredible tale. I’m certain there will be times when I am posting on the fly or so tired and delirious from work and life that I will miss some things.
I’ve been doing some thinking and am happy to say I kind of know what Jack-o and Helena are currently up to, what they were once up to, and what they one day will be up to; but just kind of. The truth is I only know a couple of things for sure:
1. Somewhere out there, in the immense dark expanse of the universe, there is a little boy and a little girl who are completely and utterly lost.
2. Without me, they’ll never find their way home.
November 16, 2015