Weekly Update – September 28, 2021

Slow writing week this week, but as I speak I am reviewing a batch of audio uploads for the Action Figures audiobook. My narrator Bethany is pushing to get this wrapped up in time for the holiday shopping season, so fingers crossed!

In other mildly interesting news, I’m waiting to hear back about two author events: the Nahant Public Library’s annual indie author day, to which I’ve been invited several times but have never been able to attend due to other commitments; and Arisia 2022.

Of course, my excitement at the prospect of being at these events is tempered by the fact that (gestures at the state of the entire country). Seriously, people, get vaccinated already.

In closing this week, enjoy this admittedly dull photo of my basement office remodeling project. It’s almost time to start making the built-in storage!

WRITING PROJECTS

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

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a late 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: In the editing phase. Tentatively set for a fall/winter 2021 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Nothing scheduled.

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.

Weekly Update – September 21, 2021

My first author event in a year and a half is, to use my favorite dumb pun, in the books.

The Corner Spot in Ashland, MA hosted the event, which was sponsored the Ashland Public Library in cooperation with the Framingham and Hopkinton libraries. It was a small affair with a nice variety of authors selling books and doing readings, and we couldn’t ask for better weather.

As is often the case, these small events are a crap shoot in terms of attendance. This one saw light attendance, but everyone had a good time and, on a more practical note, I turned a profit, so I’ll call it a modest success and a fun afternoon.

I tentatively have another event lined up for November, and I’ll announce that once things have been nailed down.

WRITING PROJECTS

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

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a late 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: In the editing phase. Tentatively set for a fall/winter 2021 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Nothing scheduled.

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.

Weekly Update – September 14, 2021

First, a reminder that my first (and potentially only) live appearance of the year is this Sunday!

The weather’s looking good so the event will be held outside at The Corner Spot in Ashland, MA (with the Ashland Public Library ready to go should the weather turn unexpectedly). Hope to see you there!

Now, time for a bit of a serious discussion, book lovers (turns chair backwards, sits).

I know we’re only halfway through September but you need to start thinking about the holidays, and I’m going to tell you why. I’ll endeavor to be brief and to the point.

The TL;DR version is this: we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s screwing things up, so you need to prepare accordingly.

You may have heard talk about “supply chains” being disrupted in various industries, at which point you nod, grunt knowingly, and say, “Ah, yes, of course — the supply chain” without actually knowing what anyone was talking about. You might have thought it was similar to a blockchain and zoned out because you couldn’t bare to listen to someone droning on about cryptocurrency AGAIN, and who could blame you?

Basically, a supply chain is the route by which any product travels from point A, its source, to point Z, the consumer. You’ll note I didn’t say “point B,” and that’s intentional, because modern supply chains can be surprisingly long and convoluted. Look at any electronic item and you’ll see a supply chain that bounces back and forth all over the globe — and since the whole globe is still actively dealing with a pandemic, relatively small disruptions that, by themselves, might have a minor impact are compounding on another to lead to delays across the supply chain that, ultimately, impact the consumer.

Publishing is no different. I wasn’t able to find specific numbers, but Chinese publishing operations handle a significant percentage of America’s publishing needs. That’s of course because the cost of producing books in China is far lower than producing books domestically, and several articles I found indicated that American publishing businesses simply cannot handle “complex” publishing needs, which covers everything from specialized bindings to the intricacy of the art found in children’s books. It’s cheaper by far to have these books made in China and shipped overseas.

The problem here: the supply chain is vulnerable to congestion at shipping ports, and congestion right now is pretty bad. On top of that, the American trucking industry lacks capacity to transport those goods to distribution centers, and from there to retailers.

Here’s where you, the consumer, comes in.

As the holidays draw near, demand for product is going to increase substantially, but the supply is not necessarily going to keep up. You might find yourself scrambling to find anything, and prices are going to increase, which is going to put a strain on your wallet and your good cheer come Christmastime.

The answer (though I won’t go so far as to call it a solution): do your shopping now. Get your list of books for gift-giving together, head right down to your local bookshop — who will be hit by stock shortages much earlier and harder than Amazon or Barnes & Noble — and place your order. If you’ve got any books by indie authors on that list (and I hope you do!), and those authors sell directly via their websites, order those books now too.

This year, it’s going to be even more important to support small businesses, so act early — earlier than you normally would. Added bonus: get your shopping done now and you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the holidays! My shopping is typically finished before Thanksgiving and I’ve never regretted it.

WRITING PROJECTS

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

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a late 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: In the editing phase. Tentatively set for a fall/winter 2021 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Ashland, Framingham, and Hopkinton Public Libraries’ Local Author Fair – Sunday, September 19, 2 – 5 PM, The Corner Spot, Ashland, MA.

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 – September 7, 2021

Slow news week, I’m afraid. I finished painting The Writer’s Block and am primed to begin laying down the flooring, and I wrapped up the latest round of edits on The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses, and that’s about it.

Honestly, I’m fine with a little boredom about now, when I’d normally be hustling hard as a member of the Connecticut Renaissance Faire cast, but I’ve basically retired from performing at faires. I’ve been involved with faires in one form or another since 1995 and it came time to admit I didn’t have the energy for them anymore. I spent my last season, 2019, in a perpetual state of exhaustion. I wanted to do one more season and call it quits after a nice, round 25 years, but then the world ended and put the kibosh on that idea.

When work began on the 2021 season and I wasn’t called for fight director duty, I decided to simply sit it out entirely. I don’t regret the decision, but I definitely have mixed emotions about it. I miss the people and the social element, but not dedicating three months’ worth of weekend to rehearsals and performances. This year, I get to enjoy autumn with my wife, and there’s nothing to be sad about there.

WRITING PROJECTS

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

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a September release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Penultimate draft finished! The book is with my editor now, and Tricia is already working on cover art. Tentatively set for a fall/winter 2021 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Ashland, Framingham, and Hopkinton Public Libraries’ Local Author Fair – Sunday, September 19, 2 – 5 PM, The Corner Spot, Ashland, MA.

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.

Weekly Update – August 31, 2021

First, the more writerly news: the local author book fair co-sponsored by the Ashland, Framingham, and Hopkinton Public Libraries has been rescheduled to Sunday, September 19. Still being held outside at The Corner Spot in Ashland, still 2 to 5 PM.

And now, onto boring basement stuff.

My basement, aka The Writer’s Block, is desperate for good lighting. There’s only one small window down there, and the existing lighting wasn’t good enough to brighten the whole space.

I took care of that on Sunday by replacing the old, mismatched, dingy ceiling tiles with bright new tiles, and replacing the overhead light fixture with a new LED model that throws light like crazy. It also has a thinner profile, which means I’m not going to bonk my head on it constantly.

I also borrowed a trick from the many home renovation shows I watch and created a “sun tunnel.” Basically, I lined the small alcove where the lone window lives with sheet aluminum, which reflects and magnifies the sunlight that does reach the window. It’s not enough to fully light up the space, but it brings a lot more sun in that the old window by itself.

To end on a completely self-indulgent note, my friend Matt happened to spot copies of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins in a display for top picks for young adult readers in a local Barnes & Noble. While I don’t put any effort into getting book shops to carry my stuff — the money is all in online sales — it’s a nice ego boost to see my work out in the wild, so to speak. Thanks for the boost, Matt!

WRITING PROJECTS

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

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a September release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Work on final draft continues.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • The Ashland, Framingham, and Hopkinton Public Libraries’ Local Author Fair – Sunday, September 19, 2 – 5 PM, The Corner Spot, Ashland, MA.

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.

Weekly Update – August 24, 2021

IT BEGINS.

By which I mean my basement office renovation project.

I took advantage of Massachusetts’ tax-free weekend to buy everything I needed, and that shopping list included enough insulation, ceiling tile, subflooring, and vinyl flooring to cover about 330 square feet (pictured at right).

Work in earnest began on Sunday, during Hurricane Henri, what with me being trapped in the house and all, and I managed to get the entire basement insulated — double layers, in fact! And I have a lot of leftover insulation to take care of the basement workshop and our pantry.

I’d post photos, but it’s insultation shoved into ceiling joists. Not terribly exciting stuff.

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: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a September release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Working on the final draft now, and work on the cover art has begun! Even though this is likely to be ready this fall, I’m going to hold the release until closer to the holidays to give it some space between Elfish Motives.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Nothing scheduled.

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.

Weekly Update – August 17, 2021

Alas, due to the threat of thunderstorms (which, of course, never materialized, because it’s New England), last weekend’s book fair was postponed. The organizers are looking at a Sunday in September to try again, so I’ll let you know when that’s been confirmed.

In other news — which, admittedly, might be less interesting to you than it is to me — renovations on my office are about to begin in earnest. I had to disrupt everything several weeks ago due to a plumbing leak, and I decided rather than put it all back as it was, I’d take advantage of the situation and give myself the office I really want.

That involved buying a few thousand dollars worth of materials, which was scary. Even scarier is the prospect of drywall repair, light electrical work, and miter cutting baseboard molding. I’ll post pictures of the progress, and hopefully I’ll have everything done before the holidays.

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: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a September release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: Third draft finished, now with beta readers.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Nothing scheduled.

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 – August 10, 2021

Keeping an eye on the weather for this weekend’s Ashland, Hopkinton, and Framingham Public Libraries Local Author Book Fair. If you’re thinking of attending, you can learn more about the event and the other participating authors at the official Ashland town website or the Facebook event page. Hopefully, you won’t have to check either to see if we’ve been rained out. Fingers crossed.

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: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for a September release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: Third draft finished, now with beta readers.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

Saturday, August 14, 2PM to 5PM: The Ashland, Hopkinton, and Framingham Public Libraries Local Author Book Fair, at The Corner Spot – 1-19 Pleasant St., Ashland MA.

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.