The Jumper Redux Comes to Wattpad

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, I’ve returned to Wattpad with a whole host of new content. I also said that I wasn’t done, and today I’m happy to report that the next phase of my Wattpad plans commence!

The Jumper

R.C. Dawson Returns

Those of you who’ve followed my work over the last few years may recall that I published a paranormal novella in 2011 titled The Jumper. The book was a lot of fun to write, and thanks to my obsession with Pushing Daisies at the time, a bit of Bryan Fuller influence guided the narrative. Something about combining humor with genuinely tense and spooky moments fit the story so much better than I’d planned on the drawing board.

The Jumper has since gone out of print, but remains a sentimental favorite. So, I figured what better time to reintroduce it to the masses with a 2015 redux? My writing skills have evolved a bit since the original print, so a redux edition provides me with an opportunity to polish and deliver a tighter manuscript.

At full disclosure, I’ll more than likely re-publish it later on down the road, but you don’t have to wait. You can read it in its entirely for FREE! Over the next couple of months, I’ll release a new chapter on Wattpad each Friday. Please feel free to leave comments as the story unfolds and tell me what you think!

The first chapter is live now, and ready for you. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

It’s here…

Today is an exciting day around here! Not only is it my Dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), but after several weeks of edits, revisions, and numerous tweaks, my latest short story Dollhouse is ready to be unleashed upon the world.

I worked with a new designer on the cover, and she absolutely knocked it out of the park. The creepy factor is strong with this one, and captures the tone of the story perfectly. Did you look at the bell? Look closer…

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They bought their dream house. It just didn’t belong to them.
Andy and Kimberly leapt at the chance to purchase a once in a lifetime property that belonged to a famous artist. What they didn’t know is he left behind a masterpiece that’ll change their dream house to a house of horrors. If you hear the bells, it’s already too late.

Dollhouse is available on Kindles everywhere now!

 

 

New Stories Now on Wattpad

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Wattpad and I are like two old friends that bump into each other occasionally around town. We smile, we hug, we share pictures of our fur babies (sometimes wearing outfits), but when we say “let’s get together for a cup of coffee,” we go our separate ways and it never happens. Oh, we don’t mean for it to never come to fruition, but we’re both busy people with busy lives to live. You know how it goes.

Well, no more! After a four-year long absence, I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to Wattpad, and I’m bringing a slew of free stories with me! Check ‘em out here.

This is not a one-time thing either. I’ll continue to add new stories over time. Who knows, you might even see early versions of stories that germinate into bigger ideas later down the road. So, keep that feedback coming, and I’ll keep doing my best to entertain you!

Flash Fiction: Keep Portland Weird

portland-skyline

 

Keep Portland Weird

By: David K. Hulegaard

 

The alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. every Monday through Friday. The routine had become so mundane that Lisa rarely ever slept till the designated wake-up call. If she was lucky, she’d open her eyes at 5:30 a.m. and stare at the bright green LED display until golden oldies blasted from her favorite AM radio station. If she was unlucky, her mornings began around 4:00 a.m.

Today was an unlucky day.

Lisa hated her job. Writing obituaries for The Oregonian failed to excite her anymore. Originally proposed to her as a “foot in the door” opportunity, she wrote the best damn obituaries in the Pacific Northwest, hoping that it would eventually lead to something better. Unfortunately, her stellar work made her irreplaceable, and her obituaries were the most requested among local residents. Lisa removed all the stress from passing on, as the departing souls could rest in peace knowing she’d write the perfect synopsis of their life.

When Lisa arrived at the office at 6:54 a.m., she was the first person from her department to show up. She booted up her Mac, wondering what banal assignments had landed at her desk overnight.

Before he’d turned the corner to enter her work area, Lisa smelled her boss’s potent Starbucks coffee. “Morning, Craig,” she said without averting her eyes from the still updating email inbox.

“Hey, Lisa,” Craig said, running fingers through his salt-and-pepper hair. “You always know it’s me. How do you do that?”

“It’s a gift.”

“So…” Craig leaned against Lisa’s desk, sloshing his paper cup of coffee. “Got a weird one for ya this morning. Did you get my email yet?”

“Not yet, I just got here.” Lisa moused over the email icon, noting twenty-one unread messages. “Why, what’s going on?”

“Well, you’re aware of the television show Portlandia’s incredible popularity, right?”

Lisa rolled her eyes. “You mean the show that tries to make Portland look cooler than it really is, when in fact it could be filmed in any other city and achieve the same results?”

“Yeah.” Craig rubbed the back of his neck. “I know you’ve got some pretty strong opinions about it, which is only going to make this much harder.”

Lisa swiveled her chair to face Craig. “Going to make what much harder?”

“Well…” Craig looked down into his caramel-colored coffee. “You were sort of featured on last night’s episode.”

“I’m sorry, I what?” Lisa twirled curls of her blonde hair around a pen. “Because it sounded like you just said I was featured on the show.”

“Not you, you, but a character based on you.”

“I’m lost,” Lisa said.

Craig wandered over to the wall and flipped through the months of a 2015 Walking Dead calendar. Actors clad in soiled clothing, and drenched in copious amounts of stage blood graced the pages. Upon reaching the end, Craig moved his attention to strips of Walking Dead dad joke memes Lisa had printed, cut out, and pinned to the wall.

“I don’t get it,” Craig said. “Why did he name his iPod ‘Titanic’?”

Lisa removed her glasses and rubbed her stinging eyes.

“Oh!” Craig laughed aloud. “It’s ‘syncing.’ That’s a homonym joke. How clever!”

“Craig, can we get back to the whole Portlandia conversation?”

“Right, right. Sorry.” Craig pulled up a co-worker’s chair and sat down. “As you know, the show’s writers spend a lot of time here doing research for their skits. They heard about you and your following, and thought it was very Portlandia.”

“My following?”

“Well, yeah.” Craig sipped his coffee. “No one in the greater metropolitan area wants to die unless Lisa Norbeck is going to write their obituary.”

Lisa tossed her glasses down on the mousepad. “Okay, so what does this have to do with the email you sent me this morning?”

“Yeah, about that,” Craig said. “Soooo… apparently the sketch was a huge hit, and Portlandia’s ratings were the highest ever. It went virile, as the kids say these days.”

Lisa opened a new Safari window and brought up YouTube. She keyed PORTLANDIA OBITUARY SKETCH into the search field and pressed ENTER. The official clip popped up at the top of the search results, boasting over eighteen million views within the last twenty-four hours.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Lisa said.

“That’s not even the weird part I was mentioning.”

“It’s not?”

“No.” Craig set his cup down on Lisa’s desk. “Due to the overwhelming success of the segment, we’ve received thousands of messages from people all over the United States looking to visit Portland and die, just to have you write their obituaries.”

“Craig, are you playing a prank on me or something?” Lisa slumped in her black, faux-leather chair. “It’s way too early for this.”

“I’m serious,” Craig said. “Folks are offering good money, too—more than we charge our advertisers. We’re sitting on a gold mine over here.”

Lisa stared at Craig, mouth agape, and waiting for a punchline that never came.

“Don’t worry, though,” Craig said. “There’s a pay increase involved here as well.”

“Not the part I was worried about, Craig.”

“Look, I get it, it’s a bit out there.” Craig picked lint off his tie. “Think of it as a service we’re providing for tourists. You know, giving them the true Portlandia experience.”

“What in the actual f—“

“Our first customer’s payment has already cleared our account, so I need you to get started right away in order to make tomorrow’s edition,” Craig said. “I sent you the details: Guy flew in from Billings, Montana late last night, then dropped dead first thing this morning on the Eastbank Esplanade. Write him something snappy.”

Lisa closed her eyes, hoping when she opened them again, she’d be back in bed staring at the bright green LED display of her alarm clock.

“You’re a rock star, Lisa.” Craig stood up and collected his cup of coffee. “Let’s make the families of these rich dead people proud to have had their relatives die in the Beaver State!”

When Lisa opened her eyes, Craig was gone, but she was still at work. She turned to her computer and scanned her emails, mortified to discover the conversation with her boss had actually taken place. It hadn’t been an aneurysm after all, despite her wishes to the contrary.

With a heavy sigh and a cracking of her knuckles, Lisa went to work on her assignment:

Meadows, Edward 42; February 12, 1973 – June 8, 2015

Edward Meadows, beloved partner of no one, and purveyor of nothing in particular, quietly passed at the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade surrounded by commuter cyclists, morning joggers, and customers waiting in line for Voodoo Donuts.

Although Edward enjoyed the sights and sounds of Portland through the magic of television, his visit to our lovely city was short-lived—literally. Fear not, fine citizens, Edward’s death was 100% organic.

Most Portlandians never knew Edward, but statistically speaking, at least twenty thousand of you had the opportunity to tell him you’re gluten free, and another five hundred of you would’ve asked him for spare change.

Edward did not arrive in Portland on the back of a unicorn, nor did he consume a single tablespoon of kombucha in our fair city, but in time, this Billings, Montana native surely would’ve opened a food cart, or at the very least, raised chickens.

Funeral services will be held this weekend at Pioneer Courthouse Square, presided by Petey, the Portland International Airport carpet. In lieu of flowers, the family of Edward Meadows humbly requests that you stick googly eyes on his casket. Portland Timbers memorabilia is also welcome.

My Passion Project: Noble Redux

Noble Concept Art by Eve F.
Noble Concept Art by Eve F.

I broke a vow to myself. After spending many hours (and dollars) re-editing the original Noble manuscript in 2011, I promised that I was done tinkering. I promised that I’d put it back on the shelf and never touch it again. I promised that I’d be “happy” with it.

And I was… for a while.

As the years rolled on, I wrote two more books in the series and completed the Noble trilogy. With more experience under my belt, these books contained crisper writing all around, and showcased my storytelling strengths in a much better light.

Knowing that some readers prefer not to enter a series still in progress, I’ll soon introduce new readers to the trilogy through a collection containing all three books. The idea was to give the original novel a spit-shine so it would feel closer in quality to the other two.

My brilliant editor, Jessica Guzman, tackled the project with enthusiasm. However, when I received the edited manuscript back, I realized that the novel needed more than a fresh coat of paint. Although Jessica had worked wonders to clean up my mess, at the end of the day, it was still the product of a first-time novelist—something no amount of editing was ever going to erase.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m so very proud of the book, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I found the time to write it. That said, the pages scream “inexperience,” and because I love the Noble universe so much, and am so invested in its future, it weighed heavy on my mind. Was this really the first impression of my work I wanted to give readers?

While discussing this topic with my wife, she said something that resonated with me (as usual): “Don’t beat yourself up about it. It was your first book. Noble would be a completely different book if you’d written it today.”

The light bulb went off over my head. What would the book look like if I’d written it today? That’s all the convincing I needed. I put all other projects aside and scheduled Noble for a long overdue, full-scale rewrite.

So, I rolled up my sleeves and dove in, rediscovering my first book and looking back on it through the eyes of a proud father. Overhauling the original manuscript provided more than just a chance to fix grammatical errors and passive voice, however. It also presented an opportunity to make adjustments to the story that have always bothered me, as well as address feedback I’d received from readers.

Here’s just a few examples:

  • A new prologue begins the story, starting things off with a bit more intensity and action.
  • Jane Emmett’s voice recording now unfolds over the course of the book instead of all at once at the beginning.
  • Miller’s character now has a bit more teeth. He’s still a softie with best intentions at heart, but he’s no longer playing the role of bumbling detective… although he still loves his apple pie (sorry, angry reviewer).
  • The Carroll’s Cross chapter has been reimagined from the ground up. No more confusing, nonsensical shadow play.
  • The ties to the other books in the series are now more prominent. Where did Gibbard come from? What did the lost civilization’s cathedral look like? Where did Puckett’s special task force originate?

All of that is merely scratching the surface. However, I didn’t fix everything. In effort to preserve some of the original first-time novelist charm, I knowingly left in some of the mistakes, too. There’s still a bit of information dumping, flashbacks within a flashback, clichéd phrases, and deus ex machina.

Why did I leave it? I guess in a strange way, it connects me to that inexperienced version of myself from 2010 without fully erasing his efforts, or the memories he created writing the manuscript. No book is ever perfect, and I wanted it retain some of its character.

So, here I am in 2015, making the same vow I made in 2011: This is it. The End. This Noble redux represents my ultimate vision of the original concept, and with its release, I now put it back on the shelf, happy. Content. Proud.

Noble Redux and Noble Trilogy Collection release this Summer for Kindle.

Interview: David K. Hulegaard & Tony Healey Talk Playlist

Release day is finally here! After months of collaboration, authors Tony Healey and David K. Hulegaard have unleashed volumes 1 & 2 of the Playlist series upon the world. In the interview below, Tony and David talk about the series, what readers can expect, and why David secretly thinks Tony is a jerk.

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What is the concept behind Playlist?

[TONY HEALEY]: Dave and I are both heavily influenced by the music we listen to, so when it came to discussing what we’d collaborate on, it was sort of a no-brainer to bring music into it. Our two pieces, Dark Beyond the Blue and City of Night, use music as their inspiration. If not for their plot, then the emotions or general mood behind them. It’s all quite interesting, and I don’t think it’s been done before that I’m aware of.

[DAVID HULEGAARD]: Tony deserves all the credit on this one. I remember pitching him a few ideas for a collaborative project, and he came back with one of his own; something he’d been chewing on that combined his love of writing and music. As an avid music lover myself, it took me all of about three seconds to get on board with his vision.

Music is always playing in the background when I write, and I’d never stopped to think about how it influenced my work. This project allowed me that opportunity, and I realized that I absolutely do feed off of the emotion the artists put into their sound. The whole concept was pretty eye-opening for me.

How did this collaborative effort come together?

[TH]: Dave was already published when I started with my first short story, and he’s given me support and acknowledgement from the very beginning. I have had the fortune of falling in with a very fine crowd, and am proud to call people like Dave my friends. I don’t know about him, but I call it destiny that we worked on a project together. I wouldn’t be surprised if we write a novel together some day. I’m serious about that.

[DH]: I’ve been wanting to work with Tony for the last couple of years, but the jerk had to go on and become a best-selling author without me! :) In all seriousness, though, I’ve always felt Tony and I are literary kindred spirits, and that we could create something memorable if given the opportunity to work together.

Playlist is not our first attempt, mind you. We’ve discussed other projects in the past that never got off the ground, and to be honest, I’m glad. Although I have no doubt we would’ve written something entertaining together, I’m more confident today than I was yesterday, and this project captures me at my very best. Perhaps we’ll have to collaborate again in a couple of years when I inevitably feel different. :)

What was the inspiration behind each of your volumes?

[TH]: We tried to work together in the past, and nothing came of it. We were both too busy, the idea fell apart, etc etc. We still wanted to collaborate on something, though. A few months ago, Dave and I started firing emails back and forth, throwing ideas around, and as these things go, we came up with the concept behind Playlist.

[DH]: Specific to Dark Beyond the Blue, I listened to Hammock on repeat. Hammock is a Nashville-based duo of the most talented songwriters I’ve ever heard. Ambient, post-rock, space rock, shoegazer music—whatever you want to call it—it’s nothing short of breathtaking.

Pitchfork once called Hammock’s albums “intensely visual music,” and I can’t think of a more fitting description. When I listen to them, full scenes play out in my mind’s eye with amazing clarity and detail. All of the stories in this collection were inspired by my emotional connection to the music.

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Is there a particular theme to each volume?

[TH]: City of Night is about the past: moving on from it, returning to it years later, and accepting it for what it is. In the case of my main character, it’s about how he locks the beast in the basement and realizes he has to let it loose again.

[DH]: Dark Beyond the Blue examines why we should never take anyone at face value. It’s in our nature to conceal certain elements of our existence from others—even those we’re closest to. These are usually secrets that fill us with shame, guilt, embarrassment, and various other emotions that can often leave us feeling conflicted. With that in mind, can you ever truly know someone other than yourself?

Although the stories in my volume aren’t directly connected, each digs beneath the surface of its characters to expose the real person inside, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

What can readers expect from Playlist?

[TH]: Something different. And cool. And a recommendation for five songs from each of us that will stir their soul, and move their heart. At least, we hope . . .

[DH]: I tried to explore a wide range of human emotion, from anger and sadness to apathy and regret. My hope is that readers will find traces in each story that they can relate to, even if it makes them a little uncomfortable at times. A couple of my beta readers confessed being moved to tears by the end, and I can’t think of a better compliment than that.

Of course, you’ll also find my signature brand of both traditional and dark humor, as well as my love of playing around in a speculative fiction sandbox. Oh, and one of these stories is actually a prequel for an upcoming full-length novel, but I’m not ready to tell which one just yet. :)

What do you like best about David’s work, Tony?

[TH]: He has a vision that’s all his own, and he has the strength and balls to follow his work through to the end. There were many times while writing Noble he could have gone the full commercial route and wrote your average thriller, but what he has with his trilogy is something unique. Each of the three books is different, but connected by the overall plot. I love that it’s not what you expect, and that he’s totally comfortable in doing whatever the hell he wants which, of course, is badass.

Something a lot of readers might not know is that Dave initially published Noble (book 1) without editing, and that when he realized every book needs a good editor he pulled it from Amazon, worked with his editor to bring it up to scratch, then reissued it. That’s his dedication not only to the craft, but to his readers. We’re all on this learning curve. We all make the odd hiccup here and there. The best of us are doing what Dave did. We’re learning by our mistakes in the beginning, putting the time and energy (and money) into something we’re passionate about, and really putting the best books out there that we can.

What about you, David? What do you like best about Tony’s work?

[DH]: Tony is a literary chameleon. His writing style is so captivating that he can explore any genre he chooses and deliver a quality story every time. When I first met him, his wheelhouse was epic space opera, but he also dabbled a bit in horror. Somewhere along the way he picked up elements of romance, which led to the only conclusion that made sense: hardcore alien sex stories. :)

All kidding aside, I am such a fan of Tony’s work, including my personal favorites: The Fallen Crown series and Dead Pretty. Of course, Tony is so prolific, that it’s entirely possible he published a new book while you were reading this interview. That may sound like a joke, but Past Dark literally went on sale as I answered these questions.

Any final thoughts?

[DH]: You should totally go get both Playlist volumes right now! You won’t be disappointed.

Memorial Day Sale (5/25 – 5/26)

Hello, my friends, and Happy Memorial Day!

Before I head out to enjoy (many) BBQ hot dogs, and honor the brave men and women who fought valiantly for this country, I wanted to let you know that five of my Kindle books are on sale now through Tuesday on Amazon.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s included in the sale:

“This book is a really good read. I mean REALLY good.” – Marietta 

“Hulegaard takes the story to the places it needs to be before wrapping everything up in a fulfilling conclusion” – Tony Healey, author of the Far From Home and The Fallen Crown series

“Loved it, loved it, loved it! Read a bit like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which was both surprising and delightful.” – Tony Healey, author of Burial and Dark Orb

“If you like Steven King you will thoroughly enjoy these stories…” – Ken

“You know something’s up as soon as the story begins, but David draws you into his world and then pounces.” – Laurie Laliberte

Stock up and complete your collection of #HulegaardBooks on the cheap!

~ DKH

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Sci-Fi & Ambient Music: Like Peanut Butter & Jelly

NGC_4414_(NASA-med)Today, I want to talk to you about the importance of soundtracks. We use music to accompany a variety of tasks, such as exercise, housework, or to help us sleep. Something about music makes even the most mundane activities tolerable, and I say this as someone who has mowed an acre lot… with a push mower.

I love music, and I’m not talking about high school romance type of love. I’m talking about full-on, put a ring on its finger level of dedication. Think about a memory from your past—any memory at all. Can you still remember the song that played when it happened? If not, is there a song that reminds you of that time in your life? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then you *get* how amazing music can be.

Music is also a powerful mood enhancer, and some writers use that to their advantage to get into a particular mindset for their work-in-progress. I have peers who listen to loud, aggressive rock to inspire their dystopian playground, and I have peers who listen to classical music to maintain a calm state for their romance novel. Would it surprise you to know that I listen to ambient music when I write?

I know what you’re thinking: how on Earth could beautiful, ambient music inspire the crazy stuff that springs forth from my imagination, right? I don’t know how to explain the connection, but ambient music has always been a key ingredient in my storytelling recipe. The layers of sound swirl around my eardrums, and paint the scenes for me to write.

Whether I’m writing sci-fi, horror, or something in-between, there is always Hammock playing in the background. Pitchfork once referred to the Nashville duo as “Intensely visual music,” and I don’t think I could’ve said it any better myself. Their music jumps out of the speaker, and pours into the worlds I’m creating.

And I’m not alone. Hammock recently released two sci-fi inspired music videos in promotion of Oblivion Hymns (Deluxe Edition). Through these videos, watch as an immersive, gut-wrenching story unfolds without a single lyric or caption. Those emotions you’re feeling? That’s what fuels me as I create. Enjoy!

Part 1: In the Middle of This Nowhere

Part 2: My Mind Was a Fog… My Heart Became a Bomb

REPLAY: Not Your Mama’s Gamer Podcast

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My deepest thanks to the crew at Not Your Mama’s Gamer for having me as their guest on last week’s podcast. We spoke at length about writing, narrative, the video game community, and of course, BioWare! I may have even dropped some tidbits about my upcoming project with Tony Healey.

If you weren’t able to join us live, episode 96 is now available online for your listening pleasure. I really enjoyed the chat, and I hope you’ll have just as much fun listening.

Advantages to Writing Gooder

Reading is fundamental, my friends! Grammarly recently surveyed over 400 freelancers to determine what impact writing skills have on a person’s career opportunities and published the results in the infographic below. As you can see, there are clear professional advantages to further developing your writing skills.

As my pal Bernard Schaffer always says, “Write hard!” :)

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