Weekly Update – June 28, 2016

This week is jam-packed full of excellent announcements, starting with the big one:

Number One Spot


Number One Spot 4

That’s right: I can now legitimately claim that Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins is a two-time number one best seller!

Happy Kermit

Ad SquareTo celebrate this achievement, I’m going to make the Kindle version of Secret Origins available for 99 cents for one day only: July 19. If you’re a current fan, please spread the word to family and friends who might enjoy the series, and feel free to share this special promotional image ——————>


The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl: The latest revisions are done! I still have a couple of test-readers as yet unheard from, but if/when they get back to me I may have to work any sound suggestions into the final draft — assuming they hit any points my other test-readers missed, that is, which would be surprising. My test-readers were seriously on the ball and pointed out a lot of issues, small and large, that I had to correct.

The result was unusual for this stage of development. Usually in the pre-editing phase, I’m mostly smoothing out the prose and trimming any fat; I expect word counts to do down, not up, but in this case the word count rose from approximately 77,000 in the third draft (which was up 1,000 words from draft two) to nearly 80,000 in the fourth draft.

The extra work was well worth it, though. What I have now is a LOT stronger than what I had a couple of months ago.

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: Almost time to get back to work on this in earnest!

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Wait, what? Why is this on the list? you might well ask. Because I have officially locked in the talented Jennifer MacPherson to record the audiobook version of Secret Origins! I’ve had Jenn in mind for this project for a long time and I finally decided to pull the trigger and make it happen. Our goal is to have the finished audiobook ready for your holiday shopping pleasure.


  • Wednesday, June 29: the Shrewsbury Public Library’s summer reading kickoff event, featuring a Local Authors Showcase. That runs next week from 3:30 to 6 PM and I’ll be one of eight (so far) local writers selling and signing books.
  • NEW! I’ve been accepted to the New England Authors Expo in Danvers, MA on July 27. This is a huge day-long show that connects authors with readers, libraries, bookstores, and industry reps. I expect to be exhausted by the end of it, but in a good way.
  • Sunday, October 2: The Connecticut Renaissance Faire’s 2016 Meet the Author series, which runs from 1 to 3 PM. As it happens, I’m playing a more active hand in promoting the Meet the Author series this year (more on that below).
  • Saturday & Sunday, October 15 & 16: The fall New Bedford Bookfest. Times TBA.


BibBoardThis last cool announcement is primarily for the benefit of Massachusetts residents, who can now read my first novel, Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins for free via Commonwealth eBooks Collections, part of the BiblioBoard system, which helps libraries across the country increase its access to e-books.

Action Figures was added to the Indie Massachusetts curation through (quoting from the website here) “the SELF-e program, a collaboration between Library Journal and BiblioLabs designed to cultivate robust local writing communities and keep libraries at the center of the indie book movement. SELF-e helps self-published authors and indie presses expand their readership while adding new and diverse indie eBooks to library catalogs across the country.”

You can find Secret Origins in the YA and Children’s Fiction section.

I’m going to close on a bit of a rant/lecture, but I think this is worth the space, so please give it a read.

My wife vended MASSive ComicCon here in Worcester over the weekend, and we learned of a display of blatant cruelty that had us both seething.

The artists’ alley area of the con was huge, which meant a lot of industry pros, independent professionals, and motivated amateurs had somewhere to display their work, which was great.

One attendee apparently disagreed. From what we learned through a few people who witnessed this, a kid asked his father about artists’ alley because, being a kid, he didn’t grasp the concept. In the course of explaining artists’ alley, the dad said many of the artists in this area weren’t very good.

Dad then transcended dickishness and achieved douchebag status by pointing out one particular artist, who was sitting right there, as exemplary of the terrible art on display.

The artist is question, a young woman attending only her second con and selling sketches for short money, managed to shrug it off at first. Later that morning, Dad unlocked his asshole achievement badge. As the artist was returning from the restroom, Dad pointed her out to his kid and remarked, loud enough for her to hear, “That’s that shitty artist we saw.”

Folks, trying to work as an artist, in any medium, whether amateur or pro, is incredibly fucking hard — not just because of the finances involved, not just because society too often dismisses the arts as a legitimate career field, not just because other professional fields try to pass off “experience” and “exposure” as legitimate forms of compensation for artists they(try to) hire, but because at some point, someone is going to be unnecessarily, excessively mean for no reason whatsoever.

Criticism is part of an artist’s life. Good criticism helps artists grow and improve. Bad criticism is inevitable. It won’t be constructive, it won’t be solicited, it won’t be welcome, but it’s something artists need to learn to deal with productively.

The things this man said do not qualify as criticism. He deliberately singled out one young artist to be the target of flat-out cruelty for the sake of it. He said these things to tear this young lady down, because it gave him some twisted form of satisfaction to do so.

Fortunately, every artist around her rallied to her side, talked her down, and were ready to protect her if Dad came around again. When word of this spread, other vendors (including my wife and I) were almost praying he’d show his face again. There would have been a line of people ready to read this prick the riot act. Veronica went over and commissioned a quick sketch of our dog Beatrix to show her support. That’s the happy outcome here: fellow artists did not for one second stand for this bullshit and stood by one of their own.

But Dad is still out there and probably will piss on some other poor unsuspecting artist for shits and giggles, and maybe the next time that person won’t have people standing by him or her to provide the support he or she needs to roll with it and move on. This despicable excuse for a human being might well snuff out someone’s creative spark, and perhaps has done so already.

I offered this story not in the hopes it would enrage you or motivate you to be more supportive to artists — I trust you all do that already — but to make some of you think twice before you decide you simply have to tell an artist how badly you think he/she sucks. If that impulse is there, regardless of the reason, stop and ask yourself exactly why you feel you need to say anything. Chances are, you don’t have to say it; you want to, at which point the question becomes: Why? What good is served by dumping on an artist whose work you don’t like?

You don’t have to praise artists if you sincerely feel they don’t deserve it, but you don’t have to go out of your way to criticize them, either.

In closing, I offer the wise words of Kevin Smith:

Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.


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