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 company takes 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.

Elfish Motives: Winifred Graceword is called home under mysterious circumstances, which lead to the company revisiting the lost even city of Wihend. But what do the four clans want with their long-abandoned ancestral home? Scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Untitled Sixth Book: The company finally returns home to Ambride, only to become immediately embroiled in a scandal threatening to consume the Ambride Academy of Magic. Scheduled for 2022 release.

How Long Will the Series Run?

Unknown, but tentatively ten books.

Are They Available As Audiobooks?

The first four books are currently available on Audible.

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 – June 15, 2021

The adjustment continues. I have a full, dedicated writing day coming up on Friday, my first in a few weeks. I’m honestly not loving the loss of writing time that comes with having a regular day job, but earning actual adult money that pays my bills takes the sting out a little.

FWIW, I’ll be working on the next Action Figures book, which is starting to shape up as the penultimate book in the series. The question is whether how much it will bring the series arc to an end — which sounds like a dumb thing to say considering I just called it the penultimate book, but I’m considering taking a page out of J. Michael Straczynski’s book and using the final book in the series as denouement for the whole series.

Now, if you’re a fan of JMS, you probably get what I’m talking about, but for those who aren’t familiar with his most notable creation, Babylon 5, the series was structured to offer its major climax more toward the middle of the overall story and use seasons four and five to let the aftermath play out to the series’ ultimate resolution. Even though that plan was altered due to the uncertainty of the show receiving its full five-season run — it looked like it was going to end with season four, so things were accelerated to get it all in — it offered a different approach to the traditional three-act story structure.

With Action Figures, I’ve introduced a lot of characters and concepts that will have far-reaching impacts in the world I’ve created. Problem is, I never planned to continue the series in perpetuity; the plan was always to wrap things up as the main characters transitioned from childhood to adulthood, and it feels like I’d be denying the readers by setting up a whole new set of pins only to never knock them down.

So, assuming things play out as I want (hope), the final book will tie off all the threads pertaining to the core cast and set the stage for future stories set in the AF universe, but not necessarily featuring the Hero Squad. Guess we’ll all find out together.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I won’t be able to make my panel on creating superhero characters.

MISC.

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. Soon to be available through Audible!

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?

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences – The Hero Squad learns that hard way that no good deed goes unpunished and the sins of their past have not been forgotten.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: Stepping Up – Collects the first three books in the series (Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, Pasts Imperfect) and features a new foreward by Patrick Hodges and a new introduction by the author.

How Long Will the Series Run?

The series is plotted out to eleven, possibly twelve books in the main series. There are potential spinoffs in the works, but the core Action Figures series will come to an end by 2023.

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 – June 8, 2021

One of the new adjustments I’m making now that I have a regular nine-to-five job — yes, it literally is a nine-to-five job — is carving out time in my schedule for writing. It’s going to be a whole new rhythm to my life with new habits to develop, and this is the week I start to set those rhythms and habits. I had all yesterday morning for myself, so I made the best of it, and I’ll do the same with days off as they come — except for Sundays, which I always have off and are dedicated to working around the house or going on day trips with my wife.

Unless I really REALLY want to write. Then I’m writing.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I won’t be able to make my panel on creating superhero characters.

MISC.

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.

Station Identification Time

Who Am I?

I’m a writer originally from Falmouth, MA who now lives in Oxford, MA 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, and the ninth book, Hell Hath No Fury, reached #1 on one Amazon best-seller list.

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 three books are available in audiobook format.

Beneath the Mask is an anthology of superhero romance stories. The collection, scheduled for a February 14, 2021 release, features ten stories, including my story Like a Knife in the Heart, starring a new character, the Sapphire Silhouette.

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.

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.

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.

Copyright 2018 Tessa Beatrice/Underdog Comics

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.

Meet the Innsmouth Look Publishing Team

Heather Auden is a professional actor and audiobook narrator. She narrates The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot series and did the second and third books of the Well-Behaved Women trilogy. You can find her other audiobook work on Audible.

Bethany Boles is a professional actor, a former PA for the Jim Henson Company, and is active in the children’s television production industry in California. She narrates the Action Figures series.

Darci Cole is an author and narrator, who narrated the first book in the Well-Behaved Women trilogy. You can find her other audiobook work on Audible, and preorder her debut novel, Target, on Amazon.

Patricia Lupien is a graphic artists and designer who is responsible for the covers that grace all books produced by Innsmouth Look Publishing. Visit the Art Store page to buy her art on a variety of products.

Julie Tremblay began as a beta reader for Innsmouth Look Publishing before taking over as regular editor on all the company’s novels.

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

Weekly Update – June 1, 2021

Slow week this week, but that’s largely because I’ve spent it at my new day job. This is my first literal nine-to-five office job that pays a living wage ever. The bad side is that it cuts my writing time down a lot. The good side is: yay money to pay my bills!

Speaking of making money…

This topic comes up periodically in the writing community, and it’s a particular sore subject for me, and that subject is “writing for exposure.”

What’s that? you might ask. It’s when an entity, anything from a publisher to a freelance client, wants you to contribute your writing (or other art) to a project but makes it clear they’re not going to exchange money for your goods and services; they’re going to let everyone know that you, yes YOU, made that art, and they’re going to share your website URL with everyone, and your email address, your Amazon Author Central page, your Facebook page…or maybe, you’re just going to benefit from so many people seeing your creation, and those people are going to run right out to learn more about you, and what a boost for your career that will be!

Exposure.

This came up again last week when someone posted on a writers’ forum I belong to, soliciting submissions for a new startup genre fiction magazine that offered to pay for new material, but would only offer exposure for any previously published material. When I commented on this, un favorably, the publisher rather indirectly admitted that they don’t have the financial resources to pay every writer, only some of them — but hey, there were sooo many people interested in their brand-new, I never-heard-of-it-before STARTUP publication that the exposure they’d receive would be incredibly valuable.

Here’s my position on that, stated simply:

Working for exposure instead of money is BULLSHIT.

For starters, exposure has no real value, certainly not in the monetary sense. It can’t be spent, it can’t be exchanged for rent, food, utilities, medical bills, car repairs…it is worthless.

As a professional creative, you need to earn a living. You need income. Your art is your means of income — maybe one of many means, but it’s part of your overall personal revenue stream. You cannot afford to give it away for free — and once word gets out you’ll work for exposure, when the next person comes along wanting to tap your genius, guess what they’re going to ask you to do?

Copyright The Oatmeal/Matthew Inman

You bloody well should.

The last guy you worked for said, “Hey, I know someone who’ll do the job for free.” What makes you think this next guy is going to offer actual payment? And I can almost guarantee that if you stood your ground and asked for money, your would-be client would make you out to be the unreasonable one. How dare you want MONEY? For ART?!

But wait, you say. You’re not a professional writer, you’re simply a hobbyist, and money isn’t a big deal to you. You do it for fun, so you don’t care if you don’t get paid.

First off, the person to whom you’re providing free art is going to make money off of it, in some way, shape, or form. If they’re going to profit off your time, energy, and creativity, why shouldn’t you? Hobbyist or no, this is your art. If someone else stands to make money from it, you sure as hell deserve to make money from it.

And there’s a wider consequence to consider, and that’s the impact on other writers. Artists of all stripes are regularly devalued as unnecessary and inconsequential. We have chosen frivolous, selfish career paths instead of pursuing “real jobs.” And besides, anyone can do what we do, right? How hard is it to string a few words together?

Our efforts are widely considered as somehow universal, something anyone can do, so why should we be paid for that?

The reality is, what we do is not easy, it’s not something anyone can do. If it looks easy, it’s because creative professionals spent years of their lives perfecting their craft. The end user never sees all the time we dedicated to becoming skillful at our chosen art, they only see the result. We make it look easy because for us, it is (relatively speaking, of course).

When you give your art away for free, you reinforce the message that it has no value, that it’s something someone can obtain for free if they look hard enough. You do yourself, other artists, and art as a career a grave disservice.

Artwork is work. Don’t give your labor away.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics.

MISC.

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.

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 on Audible.

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

Weekly Update – May 25, 2021

ACX was on the ball this month, and The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs audiobook is now available!

This took longer to produce than usual due to what I’ll simply refer to as life getting in the way, but that happens — especially nowadays — but it’s finished and ready to enjoy. My narrator Heather did a bang-up job as usual, so give it a listen and please remember to leave a review!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics.

MISC.

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.

Your Guide to Fictional Authors

It’s a bit of a running topic among writers that we’re never accurately portrayed in movies and TV. I know we’re not the only profession that gets stereotyped in entertainment media, but it’s perversely hilarious that these stereotypes are coming from actual writers.

Why would we do that to ourselves? It’s a mystery.

For funsies, I’ve collected my favorite familiar stereotypes. See how many you recognize!

The Superstar Mystery Writer

  • Most popular mystery writer since Agatha Christie
  • Boasts massive crossover audience no real mystery author has
  • Opulent home is completely unaffordable for an author without any movie deals
  • Regularly vexes local chief of police/homicide detective
  • May also be in love with local chief/detective
  • Has an IRL unsolved mystery of his own. It haunts him
  • Lots of people die around him. Like, LOTS
  • Becomes murder suspect himself at least once
Copyright ABC

The Starry-Eyed Dreamer

  • Typically a high school-age girl/college-age woman
  • If she’s not an aspiring poet or an aspiring reporter, we have no idea what kind of writer she wants to be
  • Thinks “It was a dark and story night” is a great way to start a story
  • Dreams of one day traveling the world, because that’s the only way to truly become a writer
  • Eventually dumps romantic partner to do just that, is never heard from again

The Pretentious Auteur

  • Always dresses like he’s going to a job interview
  • You know this guy has an MFA in creative writing and still believes that degree was worth every penny
  • Tends to write in coffee shops where fans can conveniently bump into them and express their admiration
  • When asked for advice, offers it in the most condescending, demoralizing, and dickish way possible
  • Produces one finished piece of writing every decade

The Unhinged Perfectionist

  • Alternates between glaring at a blank screen for hours on end; and bursts of writing feverishly, only to delete everything and rant, “It’s wrong! It’s all wrong!”
  • Always angry, frequently drunk
  • Once he finishes his play, everything will be great. One big break, that’s all he needs…
  • Invariably blames spouse and/or children for his own lack of creativity
  • Has never actually finished anything
Copyright Marvel Comics

The Moody Loner

  • Perpetually unkempt
  • Still uses a typewriter
  • Likes to lock self away from the world for days at a time
  • Fridge is filled with Chinese takeout cartons, empty cartons of milk, and nothing else
  • Which is why they live off coffee
  • Always has a cigarette dangling from his lip and/or a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels on his desk
  • Only has one friend, his agent/editor/publisher, and ends their every conversation with “I promise I’ll get the manuscript to you as soon as I can”
  • Doesn’t seem to actually enjoy writing
Copyright Columbia Pictures

The Wunderkind

  • Child prodigy
  • Wears glasses meant to make them look wizened, only makes them nerdier
  • Writes better at age ten than most adults
  • Delights in making grownups feel like idiots
  • Capable of soul-crushing insights into the human condition
  • One out of every ten adults is encouraging, the rest dedicate their energy to dream killing because you can’t make a living as a writer, you need a real job

The Master of Horror

  • Comes in three flavors: sinister, manic, or brooding
  • Will always be compared at some point to Stephen King (unless character was created by Stephen King)
  • Wears a lot of black, even at home
  • Has nightmares every single night
  • Driven/inspired by a major childhood trauma
  • Everything they write IS REAL!
Copyright New Line Cinema

The Chick-Lit Queen

  • Friendly and personable
  • Sincerely appreciates her career and fans
  • Casually offers life-changing advice during book signings
  • Cat owner
  • Single and miserable in private. Why can’t she find love as easily as her characters?

The Modern Tolkien

  • Author of a beloved fantasy saga with a legion of fans who obsess over every detail
  • Openly hates his legion of fans
  • And yet he shows up for book signings and conventions, if only to sigh in exasperation whenever someone in costume asks a question
  • Will invariably bark “It’s just a story!” in a fit of pique
  • Almost always a straight white guy

The Romance Author

  • Fanbase is nothing but middle-aged women
  • Writes under a pen name that sounds like a Jane Austen character
  • Every book cover is basically the same long-haired, muscly guy in a pirate shirt holding the same swooning woman with a heaving bosom against the same backdrop of a windswept field
  • 50/50 chance author is actually a macho dude
Copyright The CW/Warner Bros.

The Savant

  • Doesn’t know the first thing about the technical aspects of writing
  • Story gets by on sheer wackiness and shock value
  • Still more entertaining than most literary fiction
  • None of their premises are any weirder than anything Chuck Tingle ever wrote
Copyright Netflix

The One-Hit Wonder

  • The one book they wrote was either a monster success or a crashing failure
  • Has spent the rest of their life trying to write comeback follow-up book
  • Good chance of turning into The Moody Loner until a love interest comes along
  • Everyone they meet will say, “Yeah, I think I’ve heard of you. You wrote that book.”
Copyright Netflix

The Reclusive Genius

  • Wrote one thing and then vanished after a personal tragedy
  • Re-enters the world after an aspiring writer stalks him until he becomes a grudging mentor
  • Home is filled with personal knickknacks that suggest he has a rich and active life — which he doesn’t
  • No clear indication how he makes money
Copyright Columbia Pictures

The Misunderstood Visionary

  • Hardcore sci-fi geek
  • Socially awkward Annoying AF
  • Has never suffered from Imposter Syndrome, but lord, he should
  • He will tell you all about his screenplay
  • HE WON’T STOP TELLING YOU ALL ABOUT HIS SCREENPLAY
Copyright Paramount Pictures

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 company takes 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.

Elfish Motives: Winifred Graceword is called home under mysterious circumstances, which lead to the company revisiting the lost even city of Wihend. But what do the four clans want with their long-abandoned ancestral home? Scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Untitled Sixth Book: The company finally returns home to Ambride, only to become immediately embroiled in a scandal threatening to consume the Ambride Academy of Magic. Scheduled for 2022 release.

How Long Will the Series Run?

Unknown, but tentatively ten books.

Are They Available As Audiobooks?

Scratching a Lich, Assassins Brawl, and Blades of Glory are currently available on Audible. Sworded Affairs will be available in 2021.

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