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 – January 14, 2020

Big week this week!

First, Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury is available for pre-sale for the Kindle! Buy it now for $3.99 and get it when it drops next week — January 21, to be precise. The print edition should be ready by the end of the month or early February.

Next, the audiobook edition of The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Assassins Brawl is finally available! It dropped yesterday and is on Audible now. Once again, my narrator Heather did a kickass job, and I can’t wait to hear what she’s going to do for Blades of Glory.

Finally, Arisia is this weekend! I’ll be there all four days, most of that time in the dealers room at table A18, but I have two panels on Saturday: Getting Into Character in Otis (2W), 4:30 PM; and Fiction That Dies Unseen in Marina 2 (2E), 7 PM. The full schedule is available at the Arisia website, along with the program.

Hope to see you there!

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

  • Arisia 2020 – January 17 – 20, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.
  • 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.

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 (winter/spring 2020) – Black Betty is back, and ready to literally unleash Hell.

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 – January 7, 2020

Happy New Year, everyone!

Welcome to the first blog post of 2020, which I’m posting from my writing cave during the first full week of my post-holiday winter hiatus from my side gig. This is the part of my year when I roughly lay out my projects for the coming year, and for the next four months or so in particular. I’ll be home a lot, which means I have a lot of writing time ahead, but past experience has shown me that I also tend to get stir-crazy, which does nothing for my productivity.

I plan to break up the monotony of being home alone five days a week through April with some household improvement projects, and hopefully that’ll prevent my brain from shifting into low gear.

And what do I have on tap for the coming year? My writing/release schedule is below as usual, along with my two shows (so far), but I also plan to attend the second annual New England Speculative Writers Convergence — a great event for indie authors in the New England area, for anyone who might be interested.

WRITING PROJECTS

AF 9 Penultimate VersionAction Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury: I’ll be wrapping up work on the manuscript today and prepping it for release this month. Look for this awesome cover by Tricia Lupien on Amazon soon!

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 – Assassins Brawl: Final processing has been unexpectedly problematic, due to ACX insisting there are audio quality issues that my narrator insists aren’t there.

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

  • Arisia 2020 – January 17 – 20, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. I’ll be in the dealers room and on the following panels, both on Saturday, January 18: Getting Into Character – Cosplay & Costuming, Panel – Otis (2W), 4:30 PM; Fiction That Dies Unseen – Literature, Panel – Marina 2 (2E), 7 PM. For the full weekend schedule of panels, workshops, and event, go to the official Arisia website.
  • 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.

Show Me the Money! The Financial Realities of Traditional Publishing

During a recent discussion with an aspiring author, who’d met with repeated rejection from publishers and agents, I suggested that he explore the self-publishing route. I told him how well it’s worked for me and for many of the authors I know — the majority of the writers I’m friendly with are self-published — but the idea was firmly rejected because he believed that independent authorship wasn’t where “the real money” was.

It would have been easy to name several indie authors who are making an enviable living off their book sales, but I decided to dive down the rabbit hole of trad-pub author finances instead. Not like I had anything better to do that day…

What follows is the result of some quick-and-dirty research and number crunching, so take what you’re about to read with a generous grain of salt. I checked multiple sources, which of course all had slightly different data to report, and went with what seemed to be the most common figures or, failing that, an average of the averages, so I wouldn’t regard any of these numbers as authoritative.

Also, I’m not great at math. I became a writer to avoid math.

However, in my defense, the numbers support something career authors and all-around good guys James A. Moore and Christopher Golden said once during one of their roaming author coffeehouses: a tiny, tiny percentage of trad-pubbed authors make a living solely off their book sales — maybe three percent of such authors, with an emphasis on the “maybe.”

Suffice it to say, traditional publishing is not necessarily where the “real money” is.

One important caveat before I get into it: the overall point of this analysis is not to deter anyone from pursuing traditional publishing. This is strictly an examination of the earnings potential, so aspiring authors can pursue that path with their eyes open and expectations reasonable.

First, let’s start with the advance, which is typical when selling a novel to a major publisher. The average advance from a big publishing house is $10,000, which is a nice chunk of change, right?

Except that chunk is going to get smaller if you have an agent — which, if you’re getting a five-figure advance, is likely. An agent’s cut is typically 15 percent, so right off the bat your advance just shrank to $8,500.

After Uncle Sam takes his cut, which would be 10 percent on $10,000, your advance is now down to $7,650 — and I say that assuming the taxes are collected on the advance alone. If that amount pushes your overall income into a higher bracket, say goodbye to a larger piece of the advance.

But hey, $7,650 is still a pretty sweet payday — and the good news is, that money is all yours to keep. The advance is essentially the publisher paying you in anticipation of recouping that money through future book sales (more on that later), and if your book happens to tank? Not your problem anymore; the publisher took a chance on you and it didn’t pay off for them, but they’re not going to ask you for their money back.

Of course, the chances of the publisher asking you to write another book for them would be slim to none, but one hurdle at a time, yes?

The bad news (part one) is that you’re not necessarily getting that entire advance in one payment. Many publishers dole it out in phases as you meet certain milestones, like signing your contract and turning in your finished manuscript, so dismiss the idea that you can give up your day job and live off your advance while you finish your book.

The bad news (part two): the advance will be the only money you see for a while. Royalties — your cut of the book sales — don’t kick in until the advance has been “earned out,” meaning that the advance has been recouped by the publisher through sales.

(Told you I’d get back to that.)

How long does it take a book to earn its advance back? Nine months on average — less if your book really takes off, but if you’re not a runaway success right out of the gate, it might take a year or more before you start seeing royalties.

Now let’s talk about royalties, shall we? This is when you start making the big bucks, right?

Short answer: probably not.

Royalties are a percentage of the sales as determined by three main factors: the book’s retail price, how many copies have been sold, and format. Here’s the basic breakdown:

  • Hardcover books: 10 percent of the retail price for the first 5,000 copies sold, 12.5 percent of the retail price for the next 5,000 copies sold, 15 percent of the retail price for every copy sold after the first 10,000
  • Paperback (trade or mass market) books: 8 percent of the retail price for the first 150,000 copies sold, 10 percent of the retail price for every copy sold after the first 150,000
  • Ebooks: 25 percent of the retail price

Quick aside: in the above examples, “retail price” assumes that the books are being sold at full cover price. Publishers are increasingly basing royalties not on the full listed retail price (“list royalties”) but on how much the book actually sold for (“net royalties”), so if your book goes on sale or ends up in the bargain bin, your royalties adjust accordingly.

The average retail prices for hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, and ebook formats are, respectively, $25.99, $15.99, $8.99, and $12.99. Using those figures, the first tier of royalty payments for each format you’d receive, again respectively, are $2.59, $1.28, $.72, and $3.25.

That sounds like it could add up — and it could, if you happen to be wildly successful. To be fair, you could indeed be that one in a million author who hits it big, but you’re more likely to be an average author, so we’re going to base your income off your averageness.

And how many books does an average author sell? The range is 3,000 on the low end to 10,000 on the high end, and it’s important to note that that is over the course of the book’s lifetime — not weekly, not monthly, not annually, but from the day it drops to the day its publisher decides it’s not worth printing anymore.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume you’re on the high end of that scale, which means 10,000 hardcover copies sold will earn you $29,200, 10,000 paperbacks will earn you $20,000, and 10,000 ebooks will earn you $32,500.

Reminder: these figures do not factor in your advance, your agent’s fee, or taxes. A $10,000 advance alone chops these numbers down by one-third to one-half.

In any event, don’t count on this money as steady income like a weekly paycheck. Depending on the publisher and the contract you’ve signed, you would get your money at best on a quarterly basis, at worst annually.

Of course, an author’s book sales are a mix of hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks. It was tough to pin down solid figures, but as best as I could determine, 81 percent of all book sales are print and 19 percent are ebooks — and I know this seems counterintuitive to many indie authors who derive most of their income through ebooks sales (I know I do), but print still dominates the marketplace overall.

So, if we apply those numbers to an individual author and their 10,000 copies, a single novel would earn over its lifetime $46,027 — which is the gross income. That drops to $36,027 after the advance is taken out, $30,623 after the agent’s commission is taken out, and $27,561 once taxes are taken out.

I couldn’t find hard data on what an average book’s “lifetime” is, but I found several sources that indicated a typical novel sells 250 copies in its first year — and that average apparently factors in authors ranging from self-published nobodies up to mega-bestselling authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling.

That means if you want to reach that 10,000-book benchmark, your book would have to consistently sell at least 250 copies a year for 40 years — and for the sake of this example, we’ll assume that your book doesn’t see a drop-off in sales after its first year (which, in real life, it would).

And so, after your advance pays out in the months after the novel’s release, your annual royalty earnings come out to — drumroll please…

$889.06.

“Real money.”

As I said earlier, I’m not looking to dissuade anyone from traditional publishing, but if that’s your goal, money probably shouldn’t be your primary motivation. The trad-pub route comes with its own benefits, including the possibility of becoming the Next Big Thing, but getting picked up by one of the Big Five publishers is by no means a guarantee of mega-success, or even a reliable revenue stream that would allow you to ditch your day job and become a full-time author.

Station Identification Time

Who Am I?

I’m a writer originally from Falmouth, MA who now lives in Oxford 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. The first two books are available in audiobook format.

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.

Copyright 2018 Tessa Beatrice/Underdog Comics

Freedom Winds is a mini-comic I wrote for Underdog Comics, and you can read it for free at any time here, here, or here.

 

 

Well-Behaved Women is an urban fantasy trilogy for feminist audiences. After returning to work following a near-fatal shooting, Sergeant Rose Booker encounters a woman claiming to be the reincarnation of Julie d’Aubigny, the infamous 17th Century French swordswoman. Things only get stranger from there as Rose and Julie cross paths with a crime boss with a knack for exacting bloody revenge on his enemies. This is more serious and mature than my other projects — not recommended for young readers. Book one, Awakening, is now available. Book two, Transition, was released in April 2019, and book three, Endtimes, was released August 2019. The entire trilogy is available in audiobook format.

The Final Summons is the first anthology from the New England Speculative Writers. The collection features 14 fantasy, horror, and science fiction stories by NESW members, including my story The Going Rate for Penance, which is set in the world of Strongarm & Lightfoot.

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

Weekly newsletter

Amazon author page

Facebook

Twitter

BookBub

Instagram

Goodreads

LinkedIn

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