Weekly Update – February 13, 2018

Planning continues for my appearance at the AuthorStock 2018 event (details below).

I learned this week that I’m supposed to make a presentation at the event, which caught me off-guard. I thought I’d be there mostly to sign books — which I will be — but apparently the participating authors are expected to do something for 15 minutes. Some are doing readings, others are doing hands-on activities for kids.

After kicking ideas around, I decided I’m going to talk about something not strictly writing-related, but still very important to indie authors: cover art. I’m going to talk about the importance of having strong covers and the process that goes into having a cover made for you. And fortunately, I have plenty of visual aids courtesy of WIP pics my awesome cover artist Tricia has sent me over the years.

Speaking of which…

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Edited and formatted, waiting on cover art. And here’s the latest work-in-progress version! FYI, those oddly out of place photos are placeholders for where lovingly hand-drawn aliens will go. Oh, and I hope you don’t get too attached to Eye Guy on the lower right. He’s gone. He was a little too out there for my tastes. Also? He was looking at me funny.

Well Behaved Women: Lots of progress over the weekend!

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book four: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue EightCrawling from the Wreckage: Third draft written.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

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.

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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 (spring 2018) – 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 terrorist Black End.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage (spring 2019)

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 6, 2018

Hey, you. You busy on Saturday, March 3?

If not, then come on down to the Barnes & Noble in Millbury, MA, in the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, for AuthorStock 2018. I’ll be there from noon until 2 PM doing…something. I’m actually not sure what I’ll be doing, but as soon as I find out from event organizers, I’ll let you all know.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: Hit 42,000 words on book two…and 2,000 words on book three. Yeah, I jump around.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book four: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Edited and formatted, waiting on cover art.

Action Figures – Issue EightCrawling from the Wreckage: Third draft written.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

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.

Station Identification Time

Who Am I?

I’m a writer originally from Falmouth, MA who now lives in Worcester (pronounced like the name of Hugh Laurie’s dim-witted socialite) with my awesomely talented wife Veronica, who runs a business called Storied Threads.

After 15 years with the Falmouth Enterprise, where I worked as a general and political reporter, blogger, and editor, I left the news industry to focus on my creative writing.

In addition to my novels (more on that in a minute) I’m a freelance writer, and I’ve produced scripts for Pastimes Entertainment of Revere, MA and the Connecticut Renaissance Faire.

What Do I Write?

Action Figures is a YA superhero adventure series featuring a team of young superhumans who set out to make a name for themselves in the superhero world and quickly find themselves in over their heads. Fun, full of humor and action, populated with likable characters (including some of the villains), and suitable for teen readers and adults who still love superheroes. Oh, and no love triangles. Ever. The first book, Secret Origins, reached the #1 spot on two Amazon best-seller lists.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot is my response to all the overly serious fantasy novels out there that have forgotten how to have fun. The series follows two hard-luck adventurers for hire with a knack for biting off more than they can chew and their friends as they explore ancient ruins, fight deadly monsters, go on epic prophecy-driven quests for artifacts of great power hidden in highly inconvenient locations, and cross a lot of rickety rope bridges along the way. The first book, Scratching a Lich, received a gold medal for fantasy fiction from BellaOnline, a resource for women in writing, which also recognizes feminist writers and their work.

Cheap Thrills Digest is a short story collection featuring introductions to my two series, plus an original novelette-length horror story, Lost Souls, which is exclusive to CTD. If you’re curious about my writing, you can grab this for just $6 in print or 99 cents in e-book format.

Well Behaved Women is a planned urban fantasy trilogy now in the early stages. Book one is tentatively scheduled for a summer 2018 release.

What Will I See Here?

I post weekly updates that include progress reports on various projects, cover art reveals, new release announcements, a schedule of appearances and book-signings, the occasion essay on writing, and whatever random bits and pieces capture my attention.

Where Can You Find Me Online?

Official website

Amazon author page

Facebook

Twitter

BookBub

Instagram

Goodreads

Google +

LinkedIn

Weekly Update – January 30, 2018

Still pretty sore from a weekend of stage combat seminars, which I take every winter to freshen up my skills for the forthcoming spring renaissance faire season. I have a pretty heavy fight load for the spring show (more on that below) so I need to scrap the rust off so I’m ready to craft some quality fake violence.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: After several weeks of slow-going, I’ve finally hashed out the plot issues and got back to serious work last week. The first draft is new creeping up on the 40,000 word mark, and once I finish book two I will be ready to plunge right into writing book three.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book four: First draft in progress. Got a couple thousand words in last week, in-between thinking over WBW stuff.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Edited and formatted, waiting on cover art — which is in progress! Tricia is playing around with Carrie’s new look a little, and this is one of the concepts she’s experimenting with.

Action Figures – Issue EightCrawling from the Wreckage: Third draft written.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

  • Saturday, February 17, 5 PM to 9 PM: Connecticut Renaissance Faire/Robin Hood’s Faire Meet the Directors Mixer. The producers of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Lebanon, CT and Robin Hood’s Faire, which has relocated this year to Lancaster, MA, are hosting a special promotional event at their Southbridge, MA headquarters to drum up interest in this year’s auditions for the two shows. If you’re interested, stop on by to meet with the directors — including me! I’ll be returning to the spring show as fight director.

MISC.

The end is nigh!

You have until the end of the day tomorrow to grab Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins along with 33 other titles for free as part of a superhero fiction cross-promotion.

You also have until tomorrow to submit a story for the New England Speculative Writers group’s open call for its first anthology. If you’re a New England-based writer, you’re eligible to submit a story. Go here to get the full details.

Finally, 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.

Weekly Update – January 23, 2018

Big announcement time!

Over the weekend I signed a contract with a Boston-based indie comic company, Underdog Comics, to write a mini-comic for them. It’s a steampunk adventure called Freedom Winds and features a crew of women pirates fighting the so-called “triangle trade” during the Golden Age of Piracy.

Underdog Comics’ overarching mission is to increase diversity in media, and that’s a mission I can get behind.

I met the company’s founder, Tessa, at Arisia 2018, and after talking about Action Figures and what I try to do with that series in terms of representation, she asked if I’d be interested in writing a script for her. She had a couple of concepts in need of a writer, one of which was “steampunk pirate women.” By the end of the day I’d come up with some characters and a basic concept, and I spent the following week fleshing it out. I finished the script this past weekend and submitted it on Sunday.

Tessa herself will be the artist on the mini-comic, and I’ve already seen some of her character sketches. They’re looking pretty damn cool.

Freedom Winds is scheduled for a March release. I’ll keep you all updated as things progress.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: Got some more work done but, for time constraint reasons, not as much as I’d hoped. My day gig is back in full swing, though so hopefully I’ll return to pounding out more than a page a day. In the meantime, I managed to finish work on one of the costumes for the March photo shoot, and I think it looks pretty damn good.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book four: First draft in progress.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Edited and formatted, waiting on cover art.

Action Figures – Issue EightCrawling from the Wreckage: Third draft written.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (audiobook): Review completed, final editing in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

  • Saturday, February 17, 5 PM to 9 PM: Connecticut Renaissance Faire/Robin Hood’s Faire Meet the Directors Mixer. The producers of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Lebanon, CT and Robin Hood’s Faire, which has relocated this year to Lancaster, MA, are hosting a special promotional event at their Southbridge, MA headquarters to drum up interest in this year’s auditions for the two shows. If you’re interested, stop on by to meet with the directors — including me! I’ll be returning to the spring show as fight director.

MISC.

I’m taking part in a month-long cross-promotion with several other superhero fiction authors, and until January 31 you can grab Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins along with 32 other titles for free!

It’s the final countdown for the New England Speculative Writers group’s open call for its first anthology. If you’re a New England-based writer, you’re eligible to submit a story. The deadline for submission is January 31, so get cracking! Go here to get the full details.

Finally, 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?

How Long Will the Series Run?

Unknown, but tentatively ten books.

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