Weekly Update – May 24, 2016

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: Draft two is with my test readers. My hope is to get all my notes back by mid-June so I can have a draft ready for final editing by the end of the month.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: I should be getting back to work on book seven this week. My writing time will be limited for a couple more weeks due to my commitments to the Robin Hood Springtime Festival, but after that my schedule will open back up.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

It’s been a week of ups and downs in terms of publicity opportunities. A couple of things I’d lined up feel through, which is disappointing and frustrating, but a podcast interview is still a go. That might happen later this week or perhaps next, depending on the host’s availability.

Finally, I was rather thrilled to find that someone ordered several books through the website. It’s maybe the second direct sale I’ve made, but it’s encouraging to think this little experiment of mine might just work.

Weekly Update – May 17, 2016

 

Drumroll, please…

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: Draft two is DONE! I finished it yesterday so I could get it off my to-do list before I get sucked up into the delightful nonsense of the Robin Hood Springtime Festival for the next three weekends. Now it’s off to my test-readers for feedback, and once the show is over, I plan to get right back to work on the next draft.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: About a quarter of the way through the first draft. Once Assassins Brawl is out of my hair, I’ll be getting back to work on this so I can have it ready for a spring 2017 release.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a possible public appearance. It seems Barnes & Nobles stores across the country are holding a weekend of signings and discussions featuring local authors and I’ve put my name in to participate.

 

Weekly Update – May 10, 2016

Bit of a slow week this week due to my Connecticut Renaissance Faire commitments, but progress has been made here and there. By the way, you should all come check out the show and see what I do when I’m not writing.

Robin-Hood-springtime-festival-header

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: Revisions continue. I am now into the third act of the book and my hope is to finish draft two before the end of the month at the latest. After that, it goes out to my test-readers. Meanwhile, Tricia has received my notes for the cover and is getting ready to start work there.

 

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: About a quarter of the way through the first draft. Once Assassins Brawl is out of my hair, I’ll be getting back to work on this so I can have it ready for a spring 2017 release.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

My friend Phil is planning to start up a podcast about the art of storytelling, and he’s asked me to participate. I love talking about the craft, but what I love even more is helping my friends with their creative endeavors.

The podcast will feature a segment about the art of storytelling followed by a reading by me. I’m considering the first chapter of The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Scratching a Lich (which also happens to be the S&L short featured in Cheap Thrills Digest) for my reading – which will be my very first, so I should probably rehearse it a couple of times.

Finally, I’m passing along this link to an essay about one of the lesser known problems facing independent authors: requests for free books.

Now, I’ve been asked to donate copies of my books before, to libraries and fundraisers and the like, and I’m always happy to do that, but this article isn’t about benign requests like that. This is about regular readers trying to get free books from writers just because they don’t want to pay for them.

Long story short, people: that’s a shitty thing to do. Aside from the fact some indie authors (like me) depend on book sale income for their livelihood, most indie authors self-fund their projects and pay out-of-pocket for editing, cover art, advertising, etc. In some cases their passion to create may be so strong that they’ll gladly go into debt to keep providing readers with new stuff, but many others cannot afford to do that and rely on their book sales to fund future projects.

If you love an author’s work, asking for free books — or worse, reading the book and then returning it for a refund — isn’t how you show it. You support independent authors by leaving reviews for their work, telling family and friends about it, and by paying for it.

They See Me Trollin’…

In the three-ish years I’ve been a full-time freelance writer/novelist, I’ve largely managed to avoid being the target of online dickishness.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00009]That ended yesterday with a hysterically amazing incident on Twitter. The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot is currently part of a month-long promotional effort through Author Shout and is getting a lot of exposure on Twitter — where it caught the attention of a user whose name I won’t state here, because I don’t want to inflate this sad little man’s fragile ego any further.

The initial post seemed innocuous enough. He wanted to know if Erika Racewind, the character in the center of the cover, was an albino, and why she was wielding what appeared to be a Persian weapon. I responded that she was part of a race of elves whose appearance was characterized by chalk-white skin but said nothing about the sword.

(In case you were wondering, she’s chalk-white because she’s meant to be a subtle poke at the traditional Drow-style “dark elf” archetype. But I digress…)

Now, here’s where the fun begins. His next tweets were:

so why would an elf have a Persian blade? Do Persians have elves in their mythology? I know they have unicorns

but their unicorns are wolves& I don’t ever remember anything about them having elves

At this point I had a sense where this was going but I responded anyway, stating, “Persia doesn’t exist in my novel, ergo it isn’t a Persian blade; it’s elven.”

And that’s when it happened…

Troll

His next several tweets, posted in rapid succession:

it is a Persian blade, they are the only culture I know of that uses those blades

I’m getting the distinct impression that you either:

thumbed through a weapons book and thought they looked cool or are mimicking PJ’s LOTR

Note that it’s Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

either of which would be amateurish and juvenile

it is a Persian blade, they are the only culture I know of that uses those blades

copying it and calling it Elvin doesn’t undo your stealing it from their culture, directly or indirectly

But apparently basing a fantasy world heavily on medieval Europe and adapting its cultures and arms is totally cool.

and “ergo” is a pretentious word, and you didn’t even use it right

 

Wait, did I? Let me check…

Ergo

Nope, everything looks good here.

And now, the grand finale of this carnival of the absurd:

and elves don’t exist moron, myths draw from the weapons of the culture that created; don’t be infantile

And then HE blocked ME.

I did a little digging around on this guy, and I am far from the first writer he’s thrown shade at. I found quite a few other accounts of this guy picking on an author for some ridiculously trivial thing, giving him or her shit for a while, and then disappearing back into his dank cave to lie in wait for the next victim after blocking the latest target so he/she can’t respond to the troll’s blather.

If anyone out there has had any similarly amusing run-ins with online trolls, I’d love to hear about them.

In closing: elves don’t exist?

Tilda Swinton

I beg to differ.

 

Weekly Update – May 3, 2016

Welcome to the new website! Today is the official relaunch but I’ll be fine-tuning things, so please be patient while I work out the kinks and polish things up. Now, onto business…

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: Revisions continue. I’m into act two, but with my weekends occupied with the Connecticut Renaissance Faire for the next five weeks, progress will be on the slow side. I’ve sent my artist Tricia some notes for the cover, and I’ve worked up a first version of the back cover text, which goes a little something like this…

You’re invited to the wedding of the year! In lieu of gifts, the bride and groom humbly ask that you do not try to murder them.

After barely surviving Habbatarr the lich-lord and the Dead City of Hesre, Derek Strongarm and Felix Lightfoot and their companions are ready for a well-deserved rest. All they want is some good food, cold beer, a warm bed, and maybe a few days without someone trying to kill them.

And then they encounter a damsel in distress and, well, so much for that idea.

The damsel in question is the Lady Alyssa Spendle, a spoiled noble promised to Lord Paradim as part of a brokered political marriage, and the distress comes in the form of a determined group of kidnappers looking to make a quick profit off Alyssa’s ransom.

But Derek and Felix learn there’s much more to the plot, and the heroes soon find themselves entangled in a vast conspiracy that threatens to topple a kingdom and take them down in the process.

Get ready for another wild adventure with Strongarm and Lightfoot as they fight for their lives against backstabbing thieves, cutthroat mercenaries, the crime lords known as the Seven Jewels, and the mysterious assassin Ruined Isys.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl is the second book in the irreverent fantasy series by author Michael Bailey (Action Figures), a tale filled with noble heroes, dastardly villains, a colorful secondary cast, mildly interesting background characters, a bunch of people who don’t even get names, political intrigue, thrilling action, and snarky asides that don’t advance the plot much but keep things from getting too serious.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Live Free or Die: Pre-editing revisions are done, in the queue for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: About a quarter of the way through the first draft.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

The author, fellow writer J.M. Aucoin, and our sales associate Beatrix.
The author, fellow writer J.M. Aucoin, and our sales associate Beatrix.

MISC.

J.M. Aucoin and I sold and signed a few books at the OtherWhere Spring Steam Affair on Saturday. Wasn’t a busy day but it was a fun little event, and we definitely had the best assistant in the world in the form of my dog Beatrix.

Changes Coming!

Under ConstructionHappy Friday Jr., everyone. Just letting everyone know that I’m working on some overdue updates to the website, so things around here may be wonky for a while. Wonkiness may include broken links as I update pages I plan to keep and delete pages that no longer serve a purpose. The end result, in theory, will be a better-looking and more user-friendly site.

 

The Action Figures Diversity Report 2016

Two years ago, I decided to take a look through my Action Figures series to see how the cast was shaping up in terms of diversity and representation.

This bit of introspection was prompted by the American Gods TV series, then in the early stages of development (now in the casting stage, if you haven’t been keeping tabs on it). Neil Gaiman took a firm stand on the principle that the producers should honor the novel’s racial diversity, and that got me to thinking about how my cast of characters stacked up in terms of diversity.

I repeated the exercise last year to see if I’d stayed the course, if not improved upon matters. I’m doing it again this year for the same reason. I’m honestly not looking for any pats on the back for being mindful of presenting a variety of genders (and gender identities), races, sexual orientations, etc., but I do want to keep myself honest, and putting all this down in writing helps me better assess the state of things.

What I do find gratifying is how my readers accept cast diversity without question or, better yet, without resistance. Only once has someone chided me for being “too P.C.”, specifically because I made it clear some of my main characters were from the LGBTQ community — and at least that individual didn’t go the extra mile and accuse me of “pandering” to non-straight white male audiences, so I’ll file that one in the “There’s Still Hope” folder.

So here’s the main cast line-up as it stands as of the latest book (Issue Five: Team-Ups), so be warned there might be mild spoilers if you haven’t read too far into the series.

  • Carrie Hauser/Lightstorm: straight white female
  • Matt Steiger/Captain Trenchcoat: straight white male
  • Sara Danvers/Psyche: lesbian white female
  • Stuart Lumley: male, one-quarter African-American
  • Missy Hamill/Kunoichi: half-Japanese female
  • Edison Bose/Concorde: straight male
  • Bart Connors/Mindforce: gay white male
  • Natalie Guerrero/Nina Nitro: straight Hispanic female
  • Astrid Enigma/Dr. Enigma: bisexual white female
  • Dr. Gwendolyn Quentin/Doc Quantum: straight white female
  • Joe Quentin/Rockjaw Quantum: straight white male
  • Megan Quentin/Megawatt Quantum: lesbian white female
  • Kilroy Quentin/Kilowatt Quantum: straight white male
  • Farley Quentin/Final Boss: white male (sexuality TBD because he’s only six)
  • Tisha Greene/TranzSister: African-American transgender female (heterosexual by virtue of her current gender)

So really, nothing has changed here since last year. However, with Team-Ups I had the opportunity to flesh out the supporting cast a bit. I introduced Bo, Tynan, and Ashlyn, members of Kingsport High’s LGBTQ student group (they are, respectively, a bisexual white male, a bisexual African-American female, and a lesbian of unspecified ethnicity); Peggy, a potential love interest who has a mild physical disability; Zina, a Korean girl with an eye for Matt; and made Gordon, Stuart’s brother, a more prominent supporting cast member.

What still challenges and intimidates me is in how I present all these characters. I want their differences to mean something and not be throwaway elements of their characters, yet I often read how important it is for characters of color, LGTBQ characters, the disabled, etc., to simply be there. They don’t always need to have a flashing neon sign pointing out how they vary from a cis straight white “norm,” they just have to exist within the story, because visibility matters and readers will pick up on this.

Hopefully readers have noticed, and not just because I’m pointing it out now. If it takes posts like these to get readers to notice, I’d say I’m doing something wrong as a storyteller.