Weekly Update – May 3, 2022

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day is in the home stretch. The climax is teed up and ready to be written. My goal is to get draft one finished by the end of the month and jump right into the first round of revisions.

Now, onto something perhaps even more exciting! Want the chance to win 18 uncanny superhero novels? To celebrate National Superhero Day, Superhero-Fiction.com is giving one lucky winner the chance to win physical copies from 18 superhero authors. From action to romance and everything in between, this is a must-have prize package. If that’s not enough to get you excited, we are also giving away two sets of ebooks. Enter between April 28th – May 28th at https://superhero-fiction.com/nationalsuperheroday/ for your chance to win.

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 one underway. Scheduled for a mid-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 – April 26, 2022

The “nothing reportable” series of posts continues, but I will mention that I am now within arm’s reach of the climax of Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day. Draft one has passed the 112,000 word mark and I’ll almost certainly break 120,000 by the time it’s done.

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 one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 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.

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 – April 19, 2022

Alas, friends, it’s been another week of writing and not much else. So, let’s fill space this week with a little shop talk about writing — specifically, about writing a series.

There are two big things I learned in writing Action Figures and The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot, the first of which is: have a plan. It doesn’t have to be a tight, intricately detailed plan, but you should know where the series is going in general, what story points you need to hit in building toward your goal (i.e., the final book in the series), how you want your cast to develop and grow, etc. A game plan helps keep you focused so your series doesn’t turn into a meandering mess that collapses in on itself (e.g., The X-Files).

As a writer, I am generally what’s known as a “pantser,” which means I tend to write by the seat of my pants. I don’t meticulously plot out my stories and I certainly don’t write detailed outline prior to starting a project. God, no. That would drain all the fun out of it for me and make it too much like work. But I do know where each series is going overall. What I don’t always know is exactly how I’m going to get there.

That brings me to my second rule, which is be flexible. The simple fact is, as you work on your series, you might discover that elements that sounded great in the planning stages aren’t working out. It happens. So, do you forge ahead in sticking with your plan even though it might compromise the story and characters? Or do you adapt and amend the plan, and end up with a series that isn’t quite what you had in mind but works just as well, perhaps even better?

If you remember the TV series Fringe, you’ll remember the big reveal at the end of season one that (spoiler alert, even though the series is nearly 25 years old) there was a parallel Earth. The show’s producers hadn’t intended to reveal that twist until much later in the series, but then they realized dragging that story point out dragged the whole narrative down with it. By pulling that trigger earlier in the series, they gave the narrative new energy and opened up new directions to explore.

The big risk with pantsing a series is in wrapping it all up at the end. When you make things up as a you go, you end up with a lot of smaller story threads that need to be tied off somehow, and do so in a logical, satisfying way. Leave them dangling and/or make the knot too messy and you tip the reader off that you were making it up as you went. Never let them see the magic.

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 one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 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.

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.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven – The final book in the series? Maybe? Tentatively scheduled for early/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 – April 12, 2022

In the interest of avoiding yet another “nothing happened” post, I’m going to answer a few questions that have come up regarding the next Action Figures book, which is still very much in the first draft. Here we go…

What’s it called?

I’m leaning toward Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day, but that’s not 100 percent settled.

Is this going to be a big book?

Oh, yes. It’s currently clocking in at 110K words, which surpasses all other Action Figures books by 20K pages or so, and I still have quite a ways to go. The revision process will knock the word count down a bit, but it will still be a chonky book.

Why such a large book? Why not split it into two books?

Basically because it feels like a disservice to my readers. It means giving them a cliffhanger, making them wait several months before releasing the next book, and then asking them to buy a second book. Doing the story as a single novel means they get the whole story at once, and I can charge less for one big book than for two smaller books.

Is this the last book in the series?

Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: this will be the last book in the core series. I had a specific story to tell with Lightstorm and the Hero Squad and that story is coming to an end. Dragging it out for the sake of fan service or to keep the sales going — Action Figures is by far my best-selling series — isn’t creatively honest for me. I love the characters, but eventually the stories would become repetitive, hokey, ridiculous, and/or just plain boring to write for me and boring to read for you. I want the characters and the series to go out on a high note.

However!

That doesn’t mean we’ll never see those characters again. I have a spinoff/sequel story in mind featuring new characters in the same universe. In fact, the working plan is for the new novel to pick up immediately after the events of Zero Day and explore the fallout of that book through the eyes of two new protagonists. Whether it becomes a new series or is simply a stand-alone story is TBD.

There’s a second potential spinoff/sequel tale in my head featuring an established character, but again, I have to work out some particulars before I commit to that.

So what do I do once Action Figures ends?

Well, there are plenty of other indie authors out there to discover. You could always give them the same chance you gave me and maybe find a new series to love.

More selfishly, you could give The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot a try if you want more lighthearted action from me. And then there’s Well-Behaved Women for something more mature.

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 one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 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.

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 – April 5, 2022

Yep, you guessed it, another slow week for me, so I’m going to fill some space productively with another book recommendation.

This week I started — and finished — The Cool Side of My Pillow – A Book of Essays by Bruce Campbell. Yes, THAT Bruce Campbell. It’s a quick, light read filled with thoughts and musings by the man himself, and made for a great palate cleanser in-between longer books. It now sits in my little Bruce Campbell shrine down in The Writer’s Block along with If Chins Could Kill – Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, and Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor — all of which are a lot of fun.

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 one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 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.

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 29, 2022

It’s another slow week for me, but rather than waste space telling you that, I’m going to recommend a book I recently finished and absolutely loved.

The book is All for One by Lillie Lainoff, which is a gender-swapped reimagining of The Three Musketeers, but that summary is too simplistic. This is neither a riff on nor a pastiche of the Dumas novel, but its own entity with its own vibe.

It checks a lot of boxes — feminist fiction, queer and disabled representation, women helping and supporting women, all wrapped in a young-reader-friendly swashbuckling adventure — and lived up to my hopes and expectations, which doesn’t happen often. Highly recommended.

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 one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 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.

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 22, 2022

Once again, this is a slow news week. I continue to chip away at the first draft of the final Action Figures novel, which passed 90,000 words last week, making it the fattest book I’ve ever written — and I’m not done yet!

WRITING PROJECTS

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

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

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 15, 2022

I regret to inform everyone that this is another snoozer of a week in terms of eventful news. I’ve been hard at work on the next and last Action Figures novel, but that’s about it.

And yes, at this point in the project it’s safe to say this will in fact be the final book in the core Action Figures series. Not everything is going to fully wrap up in that book, but that’s okay. That just means I have a springboard for the first spinoff novel! Whether that lends itself to another series or a shorter format (trilogy or freestanding book) has yet to be seen, but expect to hear more about that once book eleven is in the can.

WRITING PROJECTS

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

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

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.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven – The final book in the series? Maybe? Tentatively scheduled for early/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