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ACTION FIGURES – ISSUE NINE: HELL HATH NO FURY

Death couldn’t stop her. What chance does the Hero Squad have?

The mad necromancer Black Betty Morgan is back from the dead and ready to raise hell — literally.

When Black Betty resurfaces to resume her longstanding feud with the Protectorate’s resident sorceress Dr. Enigma, Carrie “Lightstorm” Hauser and her teammates find themselves facing a power beyond their comprehension — and perhaps beyond their ability to stop without Dr. Enigma’s aid.

But Dr. Enigma has her own dark agenda, one that threatens to throw the Squad into the middle of a supernatural grudge match with no rules, no limits, and no mercy.

The War of the Witches is on — and Kingsport is their battlefield.

Pre-order Hell Hath No Fury for the Kindle now and get it on January 21! Print edition coming soon.

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Well-Behaved Women – A Series Overview

What’s it About?

Rose Booker remembers how she died. Both times.

Rose’s pursuit of the truth behind those memories leads her to discover that she was in a past life the legendary pirate queen Mary Read — and that she’s not the only infamous historical figure who has returned from the dead.

Who is this Series For?

Well-Behaved Women is an urban fantasy trilogy featuring a predominantly female cast. I wrote it for everyone looking for an action-packed adventure tale driven by complex heroic (and villainous, and somewhere in-between) LGBTQ women.

Is it Suitable for Young Readers?

No. The series contains violence, language, and sexual content that make it inappropriate for younger readers.

What are the Books in the Series?

Awakening: Nearly a year after being shot and left for dead, Sergeant Rose Booker returns to active duty with the Worcester Police Department, hoping to put the past behind her — except she’s not sure it’s her past that’s haunting her.

When hard-drinking hellraiser Julie d’Aubigny enters Rose’s life, she promises to reveal the truth behind Rose’s nightmares — or are they memories? — of her death at the end of a hangman’s noose.

But first Rose must stop the mysterious madman waging a bloody campaign of vengeance that threatens to turn the city’s streets red. All she has to do is uncover his identity — and his own dark secret.

Transition: The adventure continues as Rose and her friends deal with the aftermath of the events in Awakening and face off against a new, deadlier enemy hellbent on revenge.

 

Endtimes: Rose, Anna, and Julie face the fight of their lives in the conclusion of the Well-Behaved Women trilogy.

All three titles are available as audiobooks.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read can read sample chapters from Awakening, buy signed copies, connect with me through social media, and get regular updates at my website: innsmouthlook.com

A Guide to Professional Aspiring Authors

I recently wrapped my winter show schedule (Arisia and Boskone), and while neither show was a big moneymaker, alas, I got to meet and chat with other writers, which is always fun.

It’s also a little frustrating at times, because so many aspiring authors fall under a category I’ve come to refer to as the Professional Aspiring Author. These are writers who say they have a solid idea for a novel, but haven’t finished it yet — and in many cases, haven’t even begun working on it yet, and they have a million reasons why this is.

These reasons often suck. They’re flat excuses not to do the hard work of writing their novel. Sometimes people are simply more in love with the idea of writing a novel than the actual writing, but sometimes it’s how their own fear of failure manifests. If they never release their creation into the world, they can always fantasize about what might have been rather than face the possible cold, reality of being rejected by readers.

Now, let me clarify that my sense of frustration isn’t selfish in nature. I don’t secretly roll my eyes at these people and bemoan my fate at getting cornered by another big-talking, big-planning wannabe; I’m saddened that there are so many people with a lot of enthusiasm and often great ideas, but somehow wind up so stuck in their own heads that it would be a miracle if they ever get a word down on paper.

Below are some of the most common Professional Aspiring Authors I encounter, and my purpose in identifying these types is not to mock or ridicule, but to give readers of this post who may themselves be Professional Aspiring Authors a kick in the pants, shake off their excuses for not doing the work, and finally strike that “Aspiring” label.

The Over-Planner

This is the author who excitedly tells me about their 30-page plot outline, now in its fifth draft, or how they’re busy creating their fantasy world’s monetary exchange system, or how they’ve worked up exhaustive backstories for every primary, secondary, and tertiary character in the cast.

Whenever I ask how much of the actual novel they’ve written, I usually get a moment of awkward silence followed by, “I’m almost ready to start writing, but first I have to finish [plotting, worldbuilding, writing character bios, etc.].”

These people will never actually write the story — and if they do, they run the risk of writing a stiff, lifeless story because they’re so married to all the plans they laid out (go read Why Your Fantasy Novel Sucks by Professor Awesome for a more detailed analysis of this problem).

Quick aside: I say as a Pantser — someone who does little to no pre-planning before writing — that this is not meant as a slam against Planners, that kind of writer who maps everything out before writing. Neither approach is “the right one” in an objective sense; Planners create great stuff because as a writer, that’s the approach that works best for them, but over-planning is an easy trap for amateur authors to fall into.

The Overworked and Over-committed

The number one excuse I hear among Professional Aspiring Authors is, “I don’t have time to write.”

Short answer: bullshit. Yes they do.

Longer answer: I’m going to bet that they do indeed have time to wrote, but they’re choosing to spend that time on other activities — watching TV, going to the gym, a weekly bowling league, some other creative hobby — and they’re unwilling to sacrifice any of those things to give themselves writing time.

In other words, what they’re really saying is, “I don’t have time to write and still do all the other fun stuff I like to do,” and that is more likely the truth of the matter.

But here’s another truth: that extra time won’t magically appear. You want to write a novel? You have to make time, and that might mean making sacrifices. And if you’re not willing to make those sacrifices, then maybe it’s time for another hard truth and admit that you don’t really want to write a novel, you just want to talk about it.

The Temporarily Inconvenienced Bestselling Author

This Professional Aspiring Author has a website and a regular blog, social media accounts everywhere, and is constantly posting articles on writing, reviews of other authors’ work, their own helpful writing tips, and occasionally mentions the novel they’re allegedly working on.

I’ll admit, this type I find particularly grating, because the TIBA often embodies the worst form of the old axiom, “those who can’t do, teach.” They’re quick to offer writing advice and tell others what they’re doing wrong, but have never actually written anything of their own — but oh, they’re working on it.

The Invisible Author

This is the Professional Aspiring Author I have the most sympathy for. They’ve finished a project, sometimes multiple projects, and they could release them at any time, but they can’t get over that massive final hurdle that is the fear of failure.

I get it. All authors get it. Mustering the courage to pull the trigger and release your work out into the world, which has no obligation to be kind in its opinions (indeed, too many people revel in the opportunity to be cruel to complete strangers) is a huge accomplishment. I’ve heard from many more experienced authors than me that simply bringing a novel to completion is a major achievement, perhaps the most important achievement in the process, but personally, I’d put releasing the novel as a close second.

If this is you, there’s nothing wrong with dipping your toe in the water; you don’t have to dive in head-first. Post stuff online. Try releasing a short story. If you haven’t shown your work to anyone, find people to test-read for you. There are ways to ease into it.

The One-Hit Wonder

I encountered a couple of these types at Arisia, people who have actually released a novel, but only the one…several years ago…and haven’t released anything since and have turned into one of the other aforementioned Professional Aspiring Authors, or some combination thereof.

For whatever reason, these individuals tend to be rather pompous and self-important, as if their single accomplishment grants them the right — nay the obligation to share their (often unsolicited) advice with everybody. I overheard one gent regaling my neighbors at Arisia at length about the craft of writing, and I Googled him to see if he actually knew what he was talking about. The dude had one self-published book — not terribly successful, judging by the scant Amazon reviews it had — from nearly ten years ago and hadn’t done anything since then, but he deemed himself fit to lecture a small group of more accomplished and prolific authors on how to write.

(FYI, he was a man and the people he was lecturing were all women, so of course he felt compelled to mansplain writing to them.)

Folks, if this is you: don’t be this person. You want to talk shop with a fellow author? Great, but ask first, just don’t start pontificating. Your listener might well be far more knowledgeable than you, and for writers, nothing is a greater turnoff than being told how to do your job.

Weekly Update – February 25, 2020

Slow week this week, not much to report on the writer front, but it’s been busy on the personal front — and not all good news.

Without getting into too much depressing detail, a dear friend of mine is literally on his deathbed. He went in for heart surgery last May and never really recovered. Due to longstanding underlying health issues, every week was one step forward, two steps back in his recovery, and it finally hit critical last week.

Since then, people have been sharing their memories of my friend, David Stickney, and it really hit home how many people his life affected for the better, my own included. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I wouldn’t be where I am in life, personally and professionally, had it not been for him.

I don’t know if I’ve been such a powerful influence on anybody, or if I ever will be, but it’s given me a new goal to strive for.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Recording of the audibook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Worcester Book Festival – Friday, April 17 – Saturday, April 18: The event features panel discussions on Friday evening and a daylong book sale on Saturday.

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – A Series Overview

What’s it About?

Derek Strongarm and Felix Lightfoot are a pair of hard-luck adventurers for hire with an unfortunate knack for landing jobs that pay too little and threaten their lives too much. Erika Racewind is a hardened elven warrior who doesn’t like people, except maybe when she’s killing them. Winifred Graceword is a kindhearted elven priestess skilled in the healing arts. David is a young sorcerer on a path to discover who he really is – and whether that person has a last name, because going by just David is getting old fast.

Together these companions travel across the land of Asaches looking for adventure and the glory and riches that come with it. Mostly the riches, though, because you can’t buy food and beer with glory.

Who is this Series For?

Sword-and-sorcery fantasy fans looking for something a little lighter than most of the fare currently on the shelves. If you want heavy, dark, serious stories with lots of death, destruction, torture, rape, and political intrigue, go read something else because you won’t find it here.

What you will find is a fast-paced adventure filled with colorful characters, rip-roaring action, humor, and gentle jabs at the classic elements of fantasy fiction.

Which is not to say this series is a comedy or parody. There is still drama aplenty, but as a rule I don’t take things too seriously. You can read these books and not feel like you need a hug and a room full of puppies afterward.

Is it Suitable for Young Readers?

Not really. The series is a hard PG-13/light R for violence, language, and sexual content. It is suitable for older teens, but not for the YA crowd.

What are the Books in the Series?

Scratching a Lich: Derek and Felix find themselves entangled in an urgent quest to slay a legendary lich before he can trigger a world-ending apocalypse – as insane undead sorcerers are wont to do. Together with Erika Racewind, bodyguard for a mysterious young wizard named David, and Winifred Graceword, they head out to discover lost cities, recover long lost magical artifacts, and slay great evils in order to fulfill curiously specific prophecies – as mismatched, ragtag groups of adventurers are wont to do.

Assassins Brawl: The companions are hired to safeguard a spoiled brat of a princess targeted for death by the assassin Ruined Isys, but as is often the case, there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Now all they have to do is determine who is behind the plot before they get caught in the crossfire.

Blades of Glory: Derek, Felix, and company are up for a job that seems a little too simple for a payday that seems a little too generous – but unfortunately, so are the famed adventurers of fortune known as the Noble Blades. Which of them will be the first to find a stolen ceremonial mask that is absolutely positively completely normal and not at all some lost artifact possessed of dark power?

Sworded Affairs: The heroes take a job to dispose of a potentially dangerous magical artifact only to become snowbound in an isolated city besieged by flesh-hungry beasts — and under assault from within by a dark conspiracy. Early 2020 release.

Elfish Motives: Tentative late 2020 release.

How Long Will the Series Run?

Unknown, but tentatively ten books.

Are They Available As Audiobooks?

Scratching a Lich is currently available on Audible. Assassins Brawl should be available before the end of the year, and Blades of Glory and Sworded Affairs will be available in early 2020.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read can read sample chapters from Scratching a Lich, buy signed copies, connect with me through social media, and get regular updates at my website: innsmouthlook.com

Weekly Update – February 18, 2020

Boskone is done for the year, so now I’ve got a little bit of down time before my next show, a smaller local book fair (details below). It was, unfortunately, another slow show sales-wise, but I spoke to a lot of people about writing and publishing, and made a few new friends, so I can’t complain (too much).

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Recording of the audibook edition has begun! Heather Auden is returning to narrator duties, and I can’t wait to hear what she does with the Noble Blades. Set for spring/summer 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Worcester Book Festival – Friday, April 17 – Saturday, April 18: The event features panel discussions on Friday evening and a daylong book sale on Saturday.

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

Action Figures – A Series Overview

What’s it About?

The series focuses on Carrie Hauser, a 15-year-old girl who one summer experiences two life-changing events: her parents announce they’re getting divorced, and she gains superhuman abilities after encountering a dying extraterrestrial after he falls to Earth.

Her adventure begins after Carrie and her mother Christina move back to Christina’s childhood home town of Kingsport, Massachusetts, and Carrie meets four teens with powers of their own: superhero fanboy Matt Steiger, who owns a pair of magic gloves that can produce any object he can envision out of thin air, like a living cartoon character; Sara Danvers, a telepath and telekinetic who is afraid of her own abilities; the easygoing Stuart Lumley, who possesses superhuman strength; and Missy Hamill, an adorable motormouth with enhanced strength and reflexes.

The teens form a superhero team almost on a whim, but soon find themselves fighting for their lives against very real super-villains – much to the dismay of Kingsport’s hometown hero Concorde, leader of the super-team The Protectorate.

Who is this Series For?

Fans of superhero comics, TV shows, and movies in general, but particularly of titles featuring teen heroes such as Young Justice, Teen Titans, Young Avengers, and Champions.

The tone is generally lighter than a lot of YA books out there now. While there is drama and conflict, and some later stories deal with darker issues, I try to keep the series fun, upbeat, and optimistic.

Is it Suitable for Young Readers?

Action Figures is a PG-13 series that contains mild to moderate profanity, non-graphic violence, some mature themes, and later on in the series mild sexual content.

An added word about the violent content: while the violence is not graphic, the consequences are not downplayed. This isn’t sanitized Hollywood violence. People get hurt just as they would in real life and do not easily shrug off injuries, and in some cases the characters have to deal with the emotional trauma of their experiences.

What are the Books in the Series?

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret OriginsCarrie and her new friends in the Hero Squad (yes, they know their team name is awful) find themselves caught in the crossfire as the deadly mercenary Manticore comes to Kingsport, on the hunt for the rogue artificial intelligence known as Archimedes.

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women – The sorceress Black Betty threatens to raise hell – maybe literally – as she pursues her vendetta against the Protectorate’s resident paranormal expert Dr. Enigma.

 

Action Figures – Issue Three: Pasts Imperfect – Missy’s life is turned upside-down when she learns the truth about the source of her powers, and her connection to the bloodthirsty killer Buzzkill Joy.

 

Action Figures – Issue Four: Cruel SummerSara finds herself in the crosshairs of the mysterious hero killer the King of Pain, but to save herself, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear.

 

Action Figures – Issue Five: Team-UpsThe Hero Squad, still reeling from their devastating encounter with the King of Pain, get a little help picking up the pieces from their friends in the Protectorate and the Quantum Quintet.

 

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play – The Squad finds itself outnumbered and under-powered after one of their members goes missing – and at the worst possible time as foes from their past reappear, more dangerous than ever and ready to exact revenge.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War – On Earth, Carrie Hauser is a hero, but on the far side of the galaxy, she’s just another soldier on the front lines of an interplanetary war against the terrorists in the Black End.

 

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage – Carrie returns to Earth to reclaim her life, but life has moved on without her. Does she have a place with her team, her friends, or her family anymore?

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury – Black Betty is back, and ready to unleash Hell — literally, but can the Hero Squad trust Dr. Enigma to have their backs? Or does she have her own dark agenda?

How Long Will the Series Run?

The series is plotted out to ten books but might run one or two books longer. In any event, it will come to a firm end at some point and not run on indefinitely.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read can read sample chapters from Secret Origins, short stories set in the Action Figures world, buy signed copies, connect with me through social media, and get regular updates at my website: innsmouthlook.com

Weekly Update – February 11, 2020

It’s Boskone week! I’ll be in the dealers room from opening on Friday evening through closing Sunday afternoon — not on any panels, alas — so come on down and say hello!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Audiobook reading copy is prepped and ready to go. Set for spring/summer 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Boskone 2020 – February 14 – 16, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. No panels this year, but I’ll be in the dealers room again.

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.