Weekly Update – July 18, 2017

Thank you to everyone who signed up for the Innsmouth Look Publishing newsletter! I got a good initial response, and you should by now have received the first one.

While the giveaway part of the subscription drive is over, the drive itself is an ongoing project, so if you want to sign up, click this link. Hopefully as I get used to this new tool I’ll find a better way of integrating it with the website.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: Work has begun on this long-in-planning secret project. I’m keeping the details quiet for a while, until I make some solid headway on what I plan to release as a trilogy.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Second draft of both the main story and the back-up short are finished.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

Speaking of the Teen Writers Conference, I have a few more details on the Author Panel Night. Because we have so many authors on-board, the session will feature five breakout groups, each group discussing a specific topic. Hillary Monahan, Kim Savage, and I will be discussing “Heroes, Villains, and Lovable Losers.”

Finally, thanks to Linda Kepner for giving me a guest spot on her website.

Requiem for a Trunked Novel

Years ago, long before I was remotely capable of competent prose and I was still beholden to worn-out tropes in my characters and plots, I wrote a novel.

That novel was called Bostonia – The Secret History of the City on the Hill. It was an urban fantasy tale that tapped a lot of bizarre little tidbits of life in Massachusetts, past and present to bring to life a world in which supernatural creatures and magic existed, more or less out in the open. It has so much going for it. It had solid characters, cool concepts, a personality that would speak strongly to anyone who grew up in and around Boston, and a character who remains to this day one of my favorite villains I’ve ever created.

I also learned a lot while writing it. Not about the craft so much as the process. I punched out the first act easily and thought I’d finish the book in the course of a few months, even though I was writing part-time (very part-time; I was still working at the newspaper full-time so my personal writing time was limited).

And then I hit the middle of the book and had no idea where it needed to go.

That’s not entirely accurate; I knew where it ultimately had to go, but I didn’t know how to get it there. I wasn’t sure how to connect the dots I’d set up in the first act with the dots waiting for me in the third, and I stalled out. I thought I might never finish it, and worse, I thought it was a sign this whole fiction writing thing was another dead-end dream.

And then I happened across Neil Gaiman’s blog, and at the time (2007 or so?) he was discussing his progress on writing The Graveyard Book — specifically, he was discussing what a pain in the ass it was to write the middle of a story and how he struggles to get through second acts.

That was a revelation. Here was this writer who I absolutely idolized admitting he had the exact same problem I was having — and that it was completely normal. Reading through other entries, I realized that writing was not the formulaic, one-size-fits-all exercise I thought it was, that everyone had their own methodology and idiosyncrasies and hang-ups and it was okay to have them.

While that was encouraging, it didn’t help me with my block. Bostonia sat untouched for months.

And then one day, I got back to work on it. The middle was still a pain to write, but I wrote it. I finished it in 2012. And I was happy with it. And then I got to the third act, which I powered through. And I got test-reader feedback, and I revised the book, and I went through the process of shopping it to agents and publishers, and after a round of rejections, I put it aside to work on other projects — namely Action Figures — intending to one day re-visit it, polish it up a little, and finally release it.

It’s time to admit this book will likely never see the light of day.

Every so often I think about pulling it out and doing a fresh draft. There are a LOT of problems with Bostonia that are a result of my skill level at the time, problems I could correct with a lot of re-writing — as in, I don’t go in and make changes in the existing manuscript, I trash the whole thing and start writing it all over again from scratch, using the previous iteration as nothing but a loose guide so I don’t subconsciously recreate the flaws I’d be trying to correct.

The thought of doing that is intimidating, but that’s not why I’m thinking it might be time to admit it’s never going to happen.

I have two series going right now. One of them isn’t going to be finished for four years at the very least. I have an urban fantasy trilogy idea I’ve been dying to start working on. I have a horror novel concept I want to tackle. I have plenty of existing and new projects keeping me going. The notion of putting them on hold so I can try to recreate an old story simply does not appeal to me.

It’s time to, as writers say, formally “trunk” Bostonia.

It saddens me to do so. I put literally years of work into that novel. I love the things I got right. I learned so much from writing it. But I have other things to do.

The day may come when I decide it’s time to look at it again and give it another chance. I just don’t see that day coming anytime soon.

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 (spring 2018)

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage (spring 2019)

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 – July 11, 2017

Some of you might have seen the early bird announcement on my social media outlets yesterday, but I am finally launching a weekly newsletter.

My goal is to offer some of the same material you see here every week, but offer some newsletter-specific content to make it a different experience than the website.

To sweeten the pot, I will send a free copy of Cheap Thrills Digest to everyone who signs up for the newsletter this week! Simply submit your name and e-mail address, and the first 500 people who sign up will get a free e-book!

So follow this link and sign up today!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Second draft of both the main story and the back-up short are finished.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

My Book Echoes interview is now live! Go here to give it a listen!

 

Weekly Update – July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July, eveyone! Don’t get (too) drunk and blow (all) your fingers off!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Second draft of the main story is done and with test readers, and I finished the first draft of the back-up short story over the weekend.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

Speaking of CTRF, that show is going to be a little cuckoo for me. I typically don’t work the fall show, but then for a while it was looking like I might, then it was looking like I wouldn’t, now it’s looking like I am, doing some writing, fight directing, and performing. That means I’ll be at my table on my Local Authors Series day in costume, which I kind of hate. I like to be “Author Mike” when I’m appearing at any kind of event, and showing up in a costume, even if it’d be appropriate, feels cheesy.

Station Identification Time

Who Am I?

I’m a writer originally from Falmouth, MA who now lives in Worcester (pronounced like the name of Hugh Laurie’s dim-witted socialite) with my awesomely talented wife Veronica, who runs a business called Storied Threads.

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 am a freelance writer, an occasional contributor to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 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.

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.

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.

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

Amazon author page

Facebook

Twitter

BookBub

Instagram

Goodreads

Google +

LinkedIn

Weekly Update – June 27, 2017

I lead off this week with a quick, last-minute event announcement. I’ll be at the Shrewsbury Public Library tomorrow starting at 4 PM for their summer reading kickoff event. I’ll be among two dozen local authors who’ll be there selling books and talking about writing, so come on by!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Yay! The second draft is done and off to my test readers! I’m now working on a short that will run as a bonus backup feature and I hope to get that done within the next couple of weeks.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

Registration for Arisia 2018 opened last week, and I’m waiting to hear whether I’ll be in the vendor room again.