Weekly Update – August 9, 2022

Tomorrow I hope to wrap up the next draft of Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day, and then I’m going to take a little mental rest break before getting back to work. We laid our dog Beatrix to rest last week and it still hurts, a lot, so I’m going to focus on getting my head back together for a bit.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women: Work on the audiobook edition has begun, with Bethany Boles returning as narrator.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft three is underway. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work has begun on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled.

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.

Weekly Update – August 2, 2022

Not much of an update again this week. I’ve been chipping away at the next draft of Zero Day, but a lot of my mental energy had been focused on my dog Beatrix. My wife and I made the hard decision last week that it was time to let her go. Her health existing health issues weren’t improving, her new ones were making everything worse, and she stopped eating a week ago. She’s telling us she’s ready to go, so we’re preparing to do so. She’s not in any distress or pain, she simply sleeps all day. We’re hoping she’ll pass in her sleep so we can spare her the trauma of a final vet visit.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women: Work on the audiobook edition has begun, with Bethany Boles returning as narrator.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft three is underway. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work has begun on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled.

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.

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, narrated by Darci Cole (Target) and Heather Auden.

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 – July 26, 2022

My beta-readers were faster than anticipated in getting me their notes on the final Action Figures book, Zero Day, so now I’m back to work on that. The third draft is underway, and we’ll see how I feel about it when that’s done. Because this is such a huge book that wraps up a lot of longstanding story and character threads (and sets the stage for some new ones), I might do a fourth draft before sending it off to my editor. Sorry to the Strongarm & Lightfoot fans out there, the next book’s getting put aside for a little while again.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women: Work on the audiobook edition has begun, with Bethany Boles returning as narrator.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft three is underway. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work has begun on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled.

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.

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?

Twins and Losses: The company finally returns home to Ambride, only to become immediately embroiled in a scandal threatening to consume the Ambride Academy of Magic.

Cover WIP

The Final Summons – An Anthology of the New England Speculative Writers: Featuring The Going Rate For Penance, a short story set in the Strongarm & Lightfoot world. Mercenaries Jessica and Samantha Summerland receive an assignment from their least favorite client, and one way or another, this will be their last job.

How Long Will the Series Run?

Unknown, but tentatively ten books.

Are They Available As Audiobooks?

The first four books, narrated by Heather S. Auden, 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 – July 19, 2022

Slow week again. I’ve been plugging away at the next Strongarm & Lightfoot book, looking ahead to what I hope will be a full 2023 show season, and mostly, taking care of my aging bulldog Beatrix, who continues to have health issues. She’s almost 13, which is geriatric by bulldog standards, and she doesn’t bounce back like she used to, so caring for her is using up a lot of mental and emotional energy.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women: Work on the audiobook edition has begun, with Bethany Boles returning as narrator.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft two is done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work has begun on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled.

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.

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.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day – It’s the final showdown between the Hero Squad and ShadoWorks in this, the epic conclusion to the core Action Figures series. Scheduled for mid-2022 release.

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 – July 12, 2022

Received my first beta-reader feedback on Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day, and so far it’s looking like I nailed it. Meanwhile, I’m finally getting traction on draft one of the next The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot book. I’ll be in the office day working on that. Sorry, another slow news week, obviously.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women: Work on the audiobook edition has begun, with Bethany Boles returning as narrator.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft two is done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work has begun on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled.

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.

Weekly Update – July 5, 2022

With Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day with my beta-readers, I’ve turned my attention back to The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot. Book seven is underway, but I’m going to say this next installation won’t drop until next year. I have a lot of writing to do just to get the first draft out, and the unfortunate reality of needing a day job to keep the money coming in for living expenses cuts into my writing time a lot.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women: Work on the audiobook edition has begun, with Bethany Boles returning as narrator.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft two is done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work has begun on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled.

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.

Weekly Update – June 28, 2022

As I write this, I am three days away from taking a long-delayed vacation to Quebec with my wife, so as you’re reading this, I am likely already drinking and stuffed with poutine and maple-based foods. Be jealous.

Anyway, in the interest of having something of note this week, since I am somewhat in-between projects, I’m going to mention that I recently made a small but important change to one of the Action Figures novels — specifically, Issue Seven: The Black End War.

Early on in the story, Carrie drops the phrase “get woke” in conversation with one of the extraterrestrial characters. It wasn’t a throwaway bit of dialog; it had a point. The story relied on that old sci-fi trope of universal translator technology, and I wanted to have a moment to illustrate that it was imperfect tech and couldn’t always accurately convey the meaning behind euphemisms.

I went with the phrase “get woke” because, at the time I wrote the story, it was common slang that referred to becoming educated and enlightened, particularly in regard to issues impacting marginalized populations. I generally avoid trendy slang because it has a habit on not aging well, but it was the first phrase to come to mind.

I should have listened to that instinct, but I couldn’t have foreseen that right-wing pundits and conservative politicians would co-opt the term and turn it into a mocking, sneering turn of phrase intended to belittle anyone who displays empathy toward people of color, queer people, etc.* It became something ugly and mean-spirited, which didn’t fit the story at all anymore, so I changed it. It still exists in older print and Kindle versions of the book and there’s no going back to fix that, but all future versions will have the new language.

It’s not the first time I’ve deleted problematic language from one of my books, and I would be surprised if it was the last time. That is both the beauty of language and the danger of language: it changes over time, and innocuous words and phrases can evolve (or devolve) to have new and more damaging meanings. Some authors would balk at changing their finished works because they prize the sanctity of the text above all, and generally speaking, I believe that once a book is finished, it should be left as it is and not constantly tinkered with, but in this case, I couldn’t let the text stand as it is. There was simply too much negative baggage associated with it, and it risked taking people out of the story, so it’s gone.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to change every single little thing that strikes someone as problematic. Someone is always going to find fault and I’m not going to agree with every criticism, but it’s incumbent on me as a writer and a human being to be mindful of problematic language in my work and make changes when they strike me as just and reasonable.

* = If you don’t know by now my personal politics skew left, I don’t know what to tell you.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women: Work on the audiobook edition has begun, with Bethany Boles returning as narrator.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft two is done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work has begun on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled.

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.