The Hulegaard Books Podcast is Back!

After a very long hiatus, I’m pleased to announce that the Hulegaard Books podcast has returned. It most likely won’t become a weekly fixture as it once was, but my goal will remain the same: To bring you compelling conversations with some of the sharpest minds in the literary field.

My first guest is none other than the illustrious Tony Healey, the best-selling author of Hope’s Peak. In this episode, Tony and I discuss his journey to traditional publishing, and the aftermath of success. Check it out below!

Mark Duplass is My Spirit Animal

What can I say about 2016 that hasn’t already been said? It was a difficult year filled with countless hurdles, heartbreaking losses, and growing uneasiness about the future. Yes, 2016 felt like a never-ending downward spiral, however, it also turned out to be a breakthrough year for me on my journey of self-discovery.

In 2016 I saw a wonderful film called Blue Jay, written by Mark Duplass (side note: I’ve discovered over the last several years that Mark Duplass is in fact my spirit animal, and our iPods are soul mates). The movie is a nostalgic, gut-wrenching tale of two former high school sweethearts reconnecting twenty-four years later, and reflecting on their past.

Although I found the film deeply moving and poignant, it was actually something Duplass said about his inspiration to write it that resonated with me even more. He was about to turn forty-years-old, and took stock of his life, wondering if it had turned out the way he’d imagined in his youth.

“I lead the complex life of a 39-year-old husband, dad, runner of businesses. But once, I was just a 15-year-old who would stay up all night crafting a journal entry about my feelings. I was melodramatic and romantic, and I didn’t edit myself. But I suddenly woke up feeling like that person had died, and I didn’t know how to get that person back.”

These words stuck with me long after the film because I realized that’s what was happening to me. I, too, was turning forty-years-old, and an unexplained melancholy writhed in my gut. On the surface, I had no reason to complain, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I’d strayed too far from my path in life—that I’d somehow disappointed my younger self.

So, I followed Mark’s lead and took inventory of my life, and the results were surprising. Although I had much to be thankful for, what I lacked was passion, something I once had in excess. But at forty-years-old, most of my time was allocated to a job that grew more soul-crushing by the day, which drove a wedge between me and my passion.

After much introspection, I arrived at a simple conclusion: My passion is to create, and long have I neglected it. But no more. I made the decision to do something about it, starting with saying goodbye to my soul-crushing job in October.

In the two months that have since past, I’ve devoted more time and resources into feeding my passion. I feel wonderful, and exercising my creativity again has greatly improved my overall mood. While there are many things about 2016 that I can’t change, I enter 2017, hopeful, and continuing to focus on the things that I can. That path begins with the release of my new novel Icarus on January 27th.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year, and encourage you to explore your passions deeper than ever. Let’s make 2017 a brighter year together.

The Mystery Begins…

It’s official: Icarus is coming to Kindle and paperback on January 27th, 2017!

It’s the winter of 1947 in Ashley Falls, West Virginia, and a teenage girl has gone missing. Local private detective Miller Brinkman takes the case, quickly uncovering a string of bizarre clues. A hidden diary, cryptic riddles, and buried secrets all pique Miller’s interest, but one key detail gives him pause: the girl’s parents haven’t reported her disappearance to the authorities.

As the case deepens, Miller’s investigation begins to poke holes in the idyllic picture of his beloved hometown. No longer certain whether anyone in his community can be trusted, Miller dives headfirst into a desperate search for the truth that extends far beyond the borders of Ashley Falls. He soon discovers that his missing persons case is not an isolated incident, but part of an otherworldly mystery—one that, if confronted, may threaten the very future of humanity.

Preorder your copy of Icarus today!

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December 2016 Update

Hello, everyone, and happy holidays! As I write this, the sun is shining bright without a cloud in the sky… and it’s 34° F outside. My fingers are already numb after typing only that little bit, but I will press on and deliver a long overdue update.

Icarus is Coming (No, for real this time)

After a lengthy delay, I’m thrilled to confirm that my new novel, Icarus, will release on January 27, 2017. I realize this may feel like déjà vu, but I assure you that the book is finally on schedule. In fact, I’ll prove it. Feast your eyes on the official product description:

It’s the winter of 1947 in Ashley Falls, West Virginia, and a teenage girl has gone missing. Local private detective Miller Brinkman takes the case, quickly uncovering a string of bizarre clues. A hidden diary, cryptic riddles, and buried secrets all pique Miller’s interest, but one key detail gives him pause: the girl’s parents haven’t reported her disappearance to the authorities.

As the case deepens, Miller’s investigation begins to poke holes in the idyllic picture of his beloved hometown. No longer certain whether anyone in his community can be trusted, Miller dives headfirst into a desperate search for the truth that extends far beyond the borders of Ashley Falls. He soon discovers that his missing persons case is not an isolated incident, but part of an otherworldly mystery—one that, if confronted, may threaten the very future of humanity.

Sound off in the comments below and let me know what you think!

What’s with the Delay?

Something that I’ve learned after working in the video game industry is that an extra few weeks can make all the difference in the world. I was ready to release Icarus over the summer, but there were a few details that weren’t resonating with readers in the way that I’d hoped.

My amazing editor put together a comprehensive list of points for me to potentially address, and I took another couple of months to do just that. I truly believe the extra time to bake has been worth it, and I’m very proud of the finished product. I’m so anxious to hear what you all think of the book!

Congratulations are in Order

Before I go, I’d like to take a moment and offer my sincerest congratulations to my good friend Tony Healey. Tony’s new novel, Hope’s Peak, released on Kindle last week, with the print version coming January 1, 2017. It’s no surprise to me that the book is already skyrocketing up Amazon’s Best-Sellers list. I was fortunate enough to read it earlier this year, and it has quickly become my favorite of Tony’s work.

To celebrate the release of Hope’s Peak, Tony is giving away 100 digital copies on Goodreads. I can’t recommend enough that you stop reading this right now and go enter!

My deepest thanks to everyone for your continued support. I wish you all the happiest of holidays, and look forward to hearing from you soon. Stay warm, and be kind to each other.

The (Bittersweet) End of an Era

All good things must come to an end. Sadly, today is my last day with EA/BioWare. After waiting nine long years for my opportunity to get here, it’s a shame to be leaving only four and a half years later. However, I know in my heart that it’s time to move on.

If you’ve ever met me, you know how much BioWare means to me. Getting to work on the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises was a dream come true, and I am so grateful for the experience. I still get misty-eyed seeing my name in the credits at the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was an honor to work with such talented people, and see up close how BioWare games get made.

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Why Go?

There are a number of reasons that factored into my decision, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to one simple truth: my job isn’t fun anymore.

In retrospect, the writing was on the wall after Canada denied my application for a work visa, and then later denied my application for permanent residence. The plan was always for me to advance my career in Edmonton, and when that didn’t happen, my options for growth within EA became extremely limited.

Although I fell short of my long-term goals, I leave the company with my head held high, incredibly proud of all that I’ve accomplished.

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Thank You

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the sharpest minds in the industry, for which I’m beyond thankful. I saw a lot of great people come and go over the years, but I’d be remiss not to call out a few specific people who contributed to my career:

Laura Miele – I’d never have gotten my foot in the company if you hadn’t opened the door. Without your support, my dream of working for BioWare might never have come to fruition. I’m honored to know you, and so happy that EA has elevated you to a position you deserve. You have a genuine passion for this industry unlike anyone else I’ve ever met.

Jarrett Lee – You took a chance on a scrappy underdog from Portland, Oregon, and I hope I proved you right. It was a privilege to learn from you. You have a keen mind for this business, and you see things on a level that’s head and shoulders above your peers.

Chris Mancil – Through thick and thin, you always had my back. My journey could’ve come to an end when my contract ran out in 2013, but thanks to your efforts, I got to hang around for another three years. Thank you for being in my corner and for pushing so hard to make room for me on the team.

Jessica Merizan – I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. You took me under your wing from day one and positioned me for success. I learned so much working with you and continued to apply those lessons long after you’d left. I wish we could’ve had more time together, but I’m so thankful for the two years we had.

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Karin Weekes – When I think about the people I’ve worked with over my 20+ year career—the people that truly had an impact on me—you stand out within a class of people at the top of the mountain. You taught me to rethink the way I write, and consider every scenario from multiple angles. Working with you has made me a better writer, and it was an honor to be edited by you.

Amanda Klesko – What would I have done without you? You kept me sane when I felt overwhelmed, and dug me out whenever I got buried. There were times I literally could not have done my job without you. If I didn’t tell you enough before, I’m telling you now: you’re a rock star, and I am forever in your debt.

The BioWare Community – EA may have signed my paychecks, but ultimately, I worked for you guys. I tried my best to ensure that you always had a good experience anytime you visited our websites and social media channels. I hope you were entertained by the content I created, and I hope you know that even when we couldn’t address every request, your voices were always heard loud and clear.

As part of the BioWare community team, I had the pleasure of attending a plethora of events and meeting so many great people. I want to thank all of you for making me feel like the work I contributed mattered. Please forgive me, as I’m sure I’m inevitably going to miss a few names, but I’d like to send extra special thanks to: Chris Priestley, Daina Friend, Ashley Barry, Karissa Barrows, Jerome Mabrey, Jackie Izawa, Geoff Blough, Kelly Bristol, Ness Shortley, Ashe (Lady Insanity), Mike Flaherty, Tyler & Jameela Cameron, Rob Simmons, Alanna Cervenak, Tamara Thrift, Amanda Sims, Lee G. (@WriteLeeWrite), Samantha Blackmon, Bryan Roces, Aenne Schumann, Grant Davis, Felicia Curth, Alli Chinn-Tupper, Allegra Clark, Bethany Westmoreland, and if you’re reading this right now, you! 🙂

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What’s Next?

After twenty years, I’m taking a break from the video games industry. At least for now. I have other avenues ahead of me that I’m very excited to explore. Cheap plug: I’ve got a Sci-Fi/Noir novel titled Icarus coming out in January 2017, which is the first book in the Noble Trilogy. I hope you’ll check it out!

Stepping away from EA will give me the opportunity to explore other passions in my life, including supporting my wife as she chases her dreams. She put them on hold so that I could chase mine, and it’s well-past time for me to return the favor.

In closing, I want to offer one last heartfelt thank you to anyone reading this. I’m excited to experience future BioWare games as a fan once again, spoiler free. I wish my extended families in Edmonton and Montreal nothing but more great success to come. I love you all, and will miss working with you very much.

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August 2016 Update

Hello once again! I hope you’ve all been enjoying a fantastic summer. For me, this year will go down as the summer of Stranger Things and Mr. Robot. If you’ve yet to partake in either of these, I can’t recommend them enough. Because staying indoors and binge-watching copious amounts of TV is what summer is for, right? 🙂

Delay

There’s nothing more frustrating than delays, whether it’s your flight to San Francisco, or twelve inches of snow that caused the vintage Castle Grayskull you bought off Ebay to get stuck in Nashville, TN. While some delays in life can be avoided, others cannot. After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to hold off the release of Icarus until January 2017.

The Detective
Icarus Concept Art by Eve F.

Why? I can say with 100-percent sincerity that this is due to a commitment to quality. I’ve revised the manuscript more times than I can count. I’ve received very positive feedback from beta readers. I could have released it this month on schedule, however, my editor has come back with recommended changes to make the book even better. At the end of the day, that’s all I want: to release the best possible book I can.

While I’m disappointed to announce the delay, it is absolutely the right decision, and I’m thrilled that the manuscript is in such capable hands. Over the next couple of months, I’ll be back to share the final cover and official description, so keep watching this space!

Odds and Ends

While I am deep into several projects, none are at a point at which I can talk about them quite yet. Icarus is currently undergoing line edits. At the same time, I’ve got another finished manuscript going through developmental editing. And while those two are baking, I’m just shy of 8,000 words into a brand new novel. Phew! I’m getting tired just thinking about all the work going on right now!

Super short and sweet update this month. The rest of 2016 promises to be extremely busy, and I look forward to sharing more information with you in the weeks ahead. Bye for now!

God Fodder: Celebrating the Album that Helped Me Overcome Bullying

One of my all-time favorite albums turned twenty-five this year: Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s “God Fodder.” This album has meant a great deal to me, and helped me through a rough period in my life. In honor of its 25th anniversary, I thought I’d share my story of how this album empowered me, and altered my course in life.

GodFodder

Middle school was a difficult time for me. I was a decent enough student and had an exemplary attendance record, but I didn’t fit in where I wanted to be in the social hierarchy. I wanted to be one of the “cool kids,” and reap the benefits of being popular: lots of friends; stylish clothes; a dab of Drakkar Noir behind the ears; and something fun going on every weekend.

Alas, it was not to be. I was an overweight, nerdy kid, and had already been labeled a loser by the upper echelon. That didn’t stop me from trying, however. I wore the hottest brands from head to toe, thinking that once the cool kids saw me in familiar clothes they’d welcome me into the fold with open arms.

Instead, they mocked me and told me I wasn’t cool enough to be wearing that stuff. On a good day, they’d make pen marks on my shirts when my back was turned. On a bad day, they’d spit loogies or throw leftover food.

This treatment continued all through middle school, and when high school rolled around, I saw it as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and try again. Unfortunately, most of those same kids came with me to the new school. So, I upped the ante. I stayed current with the latest trends, hair styles, TV shows, and music, but none of it had any effect on my social status.

The bullying only intensified. The cool kids called me names, hurled insults, and slammed me into lockers. One guy even placed tacks on my chair when I got up to hand in a homework assignment. My parents went to the principal and complained—so uncool—and I was forced to turn in my bloody underwear as “evidence.” Needless to say, my path to become cool had reached its end.

Every day began and ended in tears after that. I couldn’t deal with those mean kids anymore. I thought the bullying was the worst of it, then came the panic attacks. Getting out of bed each morning was a struggle. At first I missed a few days of school here and there. Then I missed a few days every week. In 1991, crippling anxiety eventually forced me to drop out of school all together at only 14 years old.

I began homeschooling in the evenings, which left me with a lot of free time during the day. I spent the vast majority of it watching TV. I remember flipping channels one morning and a bright and colorful video on MTV caught my attention.

The lead singer looked like Mike Patton from Faith No More, so I listened because I didn’t recognize the song. Its melodic groove and crunchy guitars were super-catchy, much different than what I’d come to expect from Faith No More. I was hooked. I got lost in the music, tapping my foot and bobbing my head to the beat.

Much to my surprise, when the song ended it hadn’t been Faith No More at all. It was an MTV “Buzz Clip” from an English band called Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. The song: Grey Cell Green.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – Grey Cell Green (Official Video) from timmi x on Vimeo.

I’d been saving my allowance for a new Super Nintendo game, but Ned’s Atomic Dustbin became priority number one. I bought their album “God Fodder” and played it nonstop for weeks. They quickly became my favorite band. We didn’t have the internet back then, so to find out more about them, I bought countless issues of Spin, Rolling Stone, NME, and Melody Maker.

Not only did my love for the band deepen through feature articles and interviews, but the magazines also helped me discover more great music I’d have otherwise been unexposed to. By the end of 1991, my musical tastes had completely transformed. I’d gone from Guns N’ Roses and Bell Biv DeVoe to new favorites including The Wonderstuff, Teenage Fanclub, Lush, Swervedriver, Catherine Wheel, Smashing Pumpkins, and of course, Nirvana.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my musical preferences weren’t the only thing changing. I was maturing and finding myself. The “alternative scene” was about more than music. It was about rejecting the societal norms and celebrating individuality. Suddenly being popular and cool didn’t matter to me because it was all subjective. Who was anyone to tell me I wasn’t cool?

I returned to school in the fall of 1992 with newfound confidence. The overweight kid with coiffed hair and Body Glove t-shirts now had long, braided hair, concert tees, and ripped jeans. I didn’t worry about fitting in anymore. I’d become something far better than popular: me.

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Me (right) in ’93

Although I’ve lost a great deal of weight since then, I’m proud to say that inside this 39-year-old body is that same 15-year-old kid… and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin is still in there, too.

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Me in 2016

Happy Anniversary, “God Fodder,” and my sincerest thanks to Jonn, Rat, Mat, Alex, and Dan for creating incredible music, and helping a lost kid find himself.

July 2016 Update

Happy summer, everyone! Is it just me or are you looking tan? As for me, I’m still as pasty and freckled as ever, but I’ve somehow managed to lose six pounds… despite the glorious hot dog food cart down the hill from my house. But enough about that. Thanks so much for stopping by, and here’s a quick rundown of happenings for the month of July.

Happy Anniversary

They grow up so fast, don’t they? It’s hard to believe that Dollhouse released a year ago this month! I don’t often publish short stories a la cart, but I had an intense dream I couldn’t shake for days, and had to get it down on paper.

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In truth, Dollhouse was an experiment of sorts. My wheelhouse is sci-fi and fantasy, and I’d never dabbled too much in horror. How’d I do? You’ll have to read it and tell me. Dollhouse will be free on July 29th in celebration of its birthday.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to also thank the amazingly talented Eve F. for her super-creepy cover design. I have friends that still won’t talk to me because of it. 🙂

Icarus Preparing for Flight

Last month I talked about the impending re-release of the Noble Trilogy, starting with Icarus this summer. Since then, a few snags in the plan have slowed me down, and the first book may not arrive until late August or early September. The next two weeks will be critical in nailing down the exact time frame. So, stay tuned for more on that.

Noble Trilogy Promo Art
Art Design by Eve F.

Oh! I can tell you that I’ve partnered once again with Eve F. on the cover design for all three books, and I’m overjoyed with how they’re coming along. James McDonald did an incredible job with the originals, but the re-release needed a fresh look and Eve is nailing it! Can’t wait to show you.

New Novel in Progress

I mentioned in the June update that I was outlining my next novel, and I’m happy to report that the manuscript is now underway. Well, I’m only 3,000 words in, but every journey begins with the first step. 🙂  I’m trying a new process and have been participating in a Novels-in-Progress workshop with the truly gifted Julie Christine Johnson.

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This has provided me with structural feedback at the ground floor, and will get me back on track in real time if I drift off course. Although I still have a long road ahead, early feedback has been positive, and I feel good about the book’s direction. It’s unlike anything else I’ve written, so I’m both enjoying and loathing the challenge.

And that concludes this month’s update. I hope everyone is well. Drop me a line sometime and tell me what you’re up to. Read a great book? See a great movie? Hear a great band? Play a great game? Tell me about it!

Until next time, I’ll leave you with this little beauty from my holiday wish list…

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June 2016 Update

Will this guy ever shut up? 🙂 Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog, but that’s because I’ve been soooooo busy. Like, for real. Not just something I say to explain why I never call people back. But I’m happy to have a little time to myself so I can catch you up with a few highlights.

Max & the Gang Holding Strong

I’ll kick this update off with a piece of very exciting news I received this week. My latest novel Planet of Ice has surpassed New World Order to become my best-selling book of all time. Go Max! I’d like to thank each and every one of you that took the time to read it, and I’ve really enjoyed all the great feedback you’ve given me.

Planet of Ice

Of course, Planet of Ice wouldn’t have been possible without my good friend Tony Healey passing me the baton and trusting me with his baby. So, thank you, Tony! If you haven’t yet started the Broken Stars series, I highly recommend picking up Tony’s brilliant Age of Destiny.

A Return to Ashley Falls

If you’ve been following me over the last couple of years, you may know that my writing career began in 2010 with a Sci-Fi/Noir novel titled Noble. Like most first-time writers, I made a lot of mistakes and the book wasn’t ready for publication. That said, I’ve always believed in its potential.

I’ve since workshopped the book with some very talented people, and I’m ready to give it new life after many months of hard work. While the plot remains true to the original, this is by no means the same book. This is not an HD re-master. It’s a full-on remake. Because of this, the book’s title has been changed to Icarus, and it will feature an all-new bad ass cover as well.

So, what does this mean for the rest of the Noble Trilogy? Bloodlines and New World Order are currently out of print, and this seems like a good opportunity to give them a coat of polish before a proper re-release. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to see my passion project coming to fruition!

I’m happy to report that Icarus will be released this summer, but an exact date hasn’t yet been determined. Expect to see a formal announcement in the weeks ahead!

The Rest of 2016…

Shortly after completing Planet of Ice late last year, I began work on my next novel. It may surprise you to learn that it’s neither Sci-Fi nor Fantasy, because it surprised the hell out of me. 🙂 Sometimes you just have an idea that thrashes around in your head, demanding to be let out on paper, and that’s exactly what happened to me.

The first draft is slated for developmental editing in early July, so it’s still a ways out, but I hope to tell you more about it by the end of the year.

… And Beyond

Don’t worry, it was only a temporary departure, and I’m diving right back into Sci-FI/Fantasy head first! As we speak, I’m outlining the plot for my next novel, which I expect to begin writing in the next few weeks. There’s not a lot I can tell you about this one yet, only that it’s going to be intense. Think somewhere along the lines of Spawn meets Dante’s Inferno meets Bayonetta. I wasn’t going to mention it at all since I don’t have any concrete information to share, but I also didn’t want you to think I wasn’t working. 🙂

All right, that’s a wrap for this update. Thanks so much for your continued support. It’s more appreciated than you know. See you next month!