Weekly Update – April 7, 2020

Hope everyone is staying inside and staying safe — and sane. I know for me the surreal sameness of every day is disorienting, and I’m kind of used to it.

In addition to writing, I’m helping my wife Veronica keep her embroidery studio running while she’s working from home, and that leads me to a bit of shameless (semi-) self-promotion. When the coronavirus pandemic started to rear its head here in the US, sales of Storied Threads’ Plague Survivor Geek Merit Badge started going through the roof — for which we’re grateful, because her business literally pays our mortgage.

We’ve since added a couple more patches for the Covid-19 crowd with their dark senses of humor. First up is the Social Distancing Geek Merit Badge, featuring the social distancing (and hide-and-seek) world champion, Sasquatch. This one’s just catching on, and a lot of folks have been ordering this along with a Plague Survivor patch.

And for the literary shut-ins, we added this embroidered bookmark inspired by Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, a story about a group of people partying the night away amidst a runaway plague. Topical, right?

Oh, yeah, and I have a bunch of books you might like. Just sayin’.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording continues with narrator Jennifer McPherson. Tentatively set for late spring/early summer release.

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: Recording of the audiobook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: The manuscript is with my editor, and my cover artist is hard at work and the early drafts look pretty cool! 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

  • Worcester Book Festival – Although I’ve yet to receive an official cancellation notice, state orders and advisories currently in place in Massachusetts have pretty much guaranteed it’s not happening. I’m disappointed, naturally, but safety comes first.

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.

Weekly Update – March 31, 2020

Looks like a lot of people have time to read on their hands. During my five-day Cabin Fever Relief promotion, more than 1,300 copies of Action Figures – Secret Origins, The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Scratching a Lich, and Well-Behaved Women – Awakening went out to Kindle users!

If you’re among those who grabbed a copy of any (or all) of these books, I hope you enjoy them — and if you do, please remember to leave a review!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: After being in limbo for several months due to various unforeseen circumstances, the audiobook version is back in production! Like a lot of us, my narrator, Jennifer McPherson (who you might recognize from the Awakening cover) is stuck inside with time on her hands, so she’s back at it.

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: Recording of the audiobook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: The manuscript is with my editor, and my cover artist has begun her work. 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

  • Worcester Book Festival – Friday, April 17 – Saturday, April 18: The event features panel discussions on Friday evening and a daylong book sale on Saturday. As of right now this event has not been cancelled, but I would be surprised if it went on as planned.

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.

Weekly Update – March 23, 2020

I’m dropping this week’s blog post and newsletter a day early to announce a special Cabin Fever Relief promotion!

Beginning tomorrow, you can get the Kindle editions of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins, The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Scratching a Lich, and Well-Behaved Women – Awakening for FREE!

That’s right, the first books in my three series will all be available as free downloads through Amazon for the Kindle, tomorrow through Saturday.

But that’s not all! I have a limited number of promotional codes for the Audible versions of Scratching a Lich and its sequel, Assassins Brawl, as well as the entire Well-Behaved Women Trilogy available, and all you have to do is ask me for one!

(And by “one” I mean, one code per book per person, so I can spread the love around as much as possible.)

To get free Audible codes, use the “contact me” link to shoot me an e-mail, let me know which codes you’d like, and I’ll send them to you along with redemption instructions. And if you’re not a current Audible customer, tell me, and I’ll provide a special link so you can redeem your code and give Audible a try.

Please share this info with fellow readers and let them know, too! Thanks!

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: Recording of the audibook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: The manuscript is with my editor, and my cover artist has begun her work. 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

  • Worcester Book Festival – Friday, April 17 – Saturday, April 18: The event features panel discussions on Friday evening and a daylong book sale on Saturday.

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.

Weekly Update – March 17, 2020

Hope everyone is staying in and safe during what is undeniably a strange and stressful time. Massachusetts enacted on Sunday a rather strict ban on public gatherings and announced a lengthy public school closure, so a lot of folks are learning what it’s like to live as a professional writer: sitting at home all day, every day, starved for live social interaction — and, since it’s also St. Patrick’s Day, drinking a little too much.

Speaking of staying home and writing…

A lot of writerly folks online took advantage of this crisis to offer some well-intended but ill-thought-out encouragement to the aspiring author crowd to get cracking on that novel they’d never had time to write.

I call it well-intended because, sure, on the surface this feels like a perfect time to sit down and get cracking on that long-deferred novel project, but I call it ill-thought-out because — as others have pointed out — this is not some sort of bonus free time people are getting. More fortunate Americans have a job they can do from home, so they’re going to be busy working. And if they have kids who are stuck home and need to be home-schooled/cared for/entertained, they have even less free time.

And for those who are underemployed or straight-up out of work until this passes? They’re likely too stressed about how they’re going to pay their bills to try to be creative — and before you say, “Yeah, but if they write their novel, they’ll have money!” you need to acknowledge that you don’t know jack shit about how this job works financially and stop trying to help, because you are not helping.

(I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole now. If someone really wants to know why this is unfeasible, say so and I’ll indulge you, but for now I’m going to give it a pass.)

Now, if you do happen to find yourself in a situation conducive to creating — whether your chosen art form is writing, drawing, painting, music, etc. — then by all means, take advantage of it. Make some art and share it. It’ll help you stay sane throughout this mess, and might bring some much-needed happiness to someone out there who needs it. But if it simply isn’t in the cards? Don’t let anyone — yourself included — make you feel guilty for not creating your artistic masterpiece.

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: Recording of the audibook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: The manuscript is with my editor, and my cover artist has begun her work! 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

  • Worcester Book Festival – Friday, April 17 – Saturday, April 18: The event features panel discussions on Friday evening and a daylong book sale on Saturday.

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 – 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.

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 – March 10, 2020

To say last week was a downer would be to greatly understate the matter. On top of saying goodbye to a dear friend who passed away — and on my 50th birthday, no less — I learned that this year’s upcoming New England Speculative Writers Convergence was canceled over coronavirus concerns. I get that this is a case of “better safe than sorry,” but I’d been looking forward to the conference for months.

If anyone in the Worcester County (Massachusetts) general area knows of any writerly gatherings coming up, let me know, because I need some socialization in the worst way.

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: Recording of the audibook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

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

  • Worcester Book Festival – Friday, April 17 – Saturday, April 18: The event features panel discussions on Friday evening and a daylong book sale on Saturday.

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.

Weekly Update – March 3, 2020

Slow week this week, not much to report on the writer front, but it’s been busy on the personal front — and not all good news.

Without getting into too much depressing detail, a dear friend of mine died late last week. He went in for heart surgery last May and never really recovered. Due to longstanding underlying health issues, every week was one step forward, two steps back in his recovery, and it finally hit critical last week.

Since then, people have been sharing their memories of my friend, David Stickney, and it really hit home how many people his life affected for the better, my own included. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I wouldn’t be where I am in life, personally and professionally, had it not been for him.

I don’t know if I’ve been such a powerful influence on anybody, or if I ever will be, but it’s given me a new goal to strive for.

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: Recording of the audibook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

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

  • Worcester Book Festival – Friday, April 17 – Saturday, April 18: The event features panel discussions on Friday evening and a daylong book sale on Saturday.

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.