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 – October 18, 2022

Still plugging away at the penultimate rounds of revisions on Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day. I hit the halfway point over the weekend and made a few more minor tweaks. That’s all it is at this point, small adjustments to the text in areas where things don’t quite flow as I’d like them to.

Looking ahead, I’m waiting to hear about panel assignments for Arisia 2023 and what might be available for panels at Boskone 2023. Cannot wait to get back into the convention groove 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: Undergoing final edits. 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

  • Arisia 2023: January 13 – 16, Westin Boston Seaport District Hotel.

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 – October 11, 2022

The penultimate rounds of edits and revisions on Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day have been finished, and now it’s on to final revisions and one of my least favorite parts of the process, formatting. But the light at the end of the tunnel is is sight!

One bit of related good/bad news, it might take me a little longer than anticipated to finish these revisions because I was recently hired to fight direct for Studio Theatre Worcester’s upcoming production of Into the Breeches!, a comedy that you could describe as A League of Their Own if that movie had been about theater instead of baseball.

This is the first FD gig I’ve had since parting ways with the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, and I’m excited beyond words simply to get back into the FD game again, but also to work with a small theater company in an area with a growing arts and theater scene. I’m happiest when I’m being creative and working with other creative people, so landing this job was exactly what I needed to feel whole again. I’ve been missing theater work a lot, but I know I’m no longer up for the time commitment needed for a show like CTRF, which is seven weekends of performance on top of four to six weekends of rehearsal. I have this thing about spending time with my wife and my fuzzies, and the faire took away too much of that.

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: Undergoing final edits. 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

  • Arisia 2023: January 13 – 16, Westin Boston Seaport District Hotel.

MISC.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

Station Identification Time

Who Am I?

I’m a writer originally from Falmouth, MA who now lives in Oxford, MA with my awesome wife Veronica and four cats who don’t like to let us sleep in.

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 four 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 buy 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 – October 4, 2022

Final edits and formatting on Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day have begun! I started work on them yesterday at home, with some help by my newest assistant.

Everyone, meet Nadja, Mutt We Do In The Shadows.

As I mentioned several weeks back, my wife and I lost our bulldog Beatrix, who was part of our lives for almost 13 years. We honestly did not expect to want a new dog for a long while, but Veronica saw Nadja on Petfinder.com and fell in love.

Nadja and her five brothers — shar-pei/Doberman pinscher/Staffordshire bull terrier mixes — we born to a momma dog who was given up for adoption because her irresponsible owner never got her fixed and couldn’t handle the costs of caring for seven dogs.

Nadja was the most chill of all the puppies, and considering she’d be living in a home with four cats, we wanted a pup who wouldn’t be aggressive toward other pets. When we first brought her home Saturday she was absolutely terrified, but who could blame her? She’d just been fixed and now she was away from her littermates and mother. We expected she’d need a few days before she felt comfortable, but within two hours of being home, she was napping in our laps. She spent that night cuddling with us on the couch. The next morning, she was full of happy puppy energy and couldn’t wait to play with us.

Our home felt weirdly empty after we lost Beatrix. Nadja will never replace Beatrix and it’s not our desire to replace a truly once-in-a-lifetime dog, but our lives aren’t right if there’s not a dog in it, and Nadja is never going to lack for love.

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: Undergoing final edits. 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

  • Arisia 2023: January 13 – 16, Westin Boston Seaport District Hotel.

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 Best of the Rest

If you enjoy Michael’s full-length novels, check out these anthologies, collections, and side-projects featuring his work. Available on Amazon, and signed print editions may be purchased directly from the author.

Beneath the Mask – A Superhero Romance Anthology features ten tantalizing tales of masked heroes saving the day and falling in love.

From sweet saviors to steamy angelic warriors, reluctant heroes to grumpy playboys, this anthology has something for everyone who’s ever fantasized about being a hero…or falling for one.

Do you dare to peek behind the mask and live out your sweetest, darkest, steamiest fantasies?

Each story includes superheroes and swoon-worthy happily-ever-afters!

Cheap Thrills Digest is a bargain-priced short story collection featuring tales from Action Figures and The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot, the original horror short Lost Souls, and the essay Critiquing Critiques – How to Leave a Review.

Freedom Winds is a mini-comic written by me, illustrated by Tessa Beatrice, and distributed by Underdog Comics and artist Tessa Beatrice. The comic follows the adventures of a crew of renegade pirate women fighting the Triangle Trade.

You can go read it on Underdog Comics’ Facebook page now, as well as on TapasWebToonBecomics and Tumblr. Please support this small press by liking the comic and sharing the link!

Copyright 2018 Tessa Beatrice/Underdog Comics

The Final Summons is the first anthology from the New England Speculative Writers. This collection of sci-fi and fantasy stories includes The Going Rate for Penance by me, a fantasy short set in the world of The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot. Available in hardcover, paperback, and for the Kindle.

Weekly Update – September 27, 2022

This was going to be another “slow week, nothing to say” kind of post, but then I opened my inbox Sunday evening and found an edited manuscript waiting for me! Starting this week, I begin final edits and formatting on Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day!

I’ll also be waiting on cover art from Tricia, who, sadly, is going through one of those “Ah, the joys of being a homeowner” phases, so I’m going to remind folks that she sells a lot of her cover art, plus original pieces, on RedBubble, so jump over to the art store page for additional details, and then go support an indie artist in a time of need. Maybe get some holiday shopping out of the way?

Speaking of helping friends, my buddy Al Kholi — who, as I mentioned last week, recently released his debut novel, Blue Light, which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords — pinged me for some advice regarding an invitation he received to participate in an upcoming authors expo. The expo seemed legit at first, but then Al mentioned a rather stiff price tag to get in and dropped the name of the company reaching out to him: ReadersMagnet.

Right now, there are indie authors reading this and cringing at the mere mention of the name.

ReadersMagnet promotes itself as a self-publishing service that also offers promotional services, which includes getting authors’ books into major shows and expos — for a fee, which, according to several firsthand accounts (like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one), is much higher than the fee if the author were to apply directly to the show in question.

Now, the company declares rather explicitly that it is NOT a scam — by which I mean, the website has a full page titled “ReadersMagnet is Not a Scam” that explains how non-scammy it is. Personally, I think if you have to put that much effort into telling people you’re legit, you almost certainly are not legit. That is generally a HUGE red flag, along with charging fees well above the going market rate for any service the company offers, grand promises that feel too good to be true, and dicey contract stipulations like requirements to purchase so many copies of your own book, claiming full rights to your work…

I’ve written about the differences between publishers, small presses, and vanity presses before, but if you ever need a more reputable source for determining whether anything you encounter is a scam, hit Writer Beware. They do an outstanding job of sniffing out the bad actors in the industry — and there are countless bad actors out there.

Always do your research before doing business with any company offering to work with you to promote your book, and don’t let your dreams of hitting it big overrule your gut instincts. If something smells off, you’re probably right.

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 complete and the manuscript is with my editor. 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

  • Arisia 2023: January 13 – 16, Westin Boston Seaport District Hotel.

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 – September 20, 2022

I feel bad about so many empty posts, but that’s the nature of the writing beast: lots of something going on, followed by lots of nothing.

So this week, I’m going to give a longtime friend of mine a quick plug. Al Kholi, a very fine and hilariously funny gent I’ve known for 25+ years, recently released his debut novel, Blue Light, which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. I’ve not had a chance to check it out myself, but don’t let that stop you from picking up a copy.

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 complete and the manuscript is with my editor. 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

  • Arisia 2023: January 13 – 16, Westin Boston Seaport District Hotel.

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 – September 14, 2022

Sorry for missing the usual Tuesday post. I spent a long weekend in NY with my wife and her family so I wasn’t near my laptop until yesterday afternoon. Not that I have much to report. I’ve hashed out a good chunk of the plot for the next Strongarm & Lightfoot book, and I’m waiting for editor’s notes on the final Action Figures book, so same-old same-old.

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 complete and the manuscript is with my editor. 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

  • Arisia 2023: January 13 – 16, Westin Boston Seaport District Hotel.

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.