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.

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, our bulldog Beatrix, 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 – 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.

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 – 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.

Well-Behaved Women – A Series Overview

What’s it About?

Rose Booker remembers how she died. Both times.

Rose’s pursuit of the truth behind those memories leads her to discover that she was in a past life the legendary pirate queen Mary Read — and that she’s not the only infamous historical figure who has returned from the dead.

Who is this Series For?

Well-Behaved Women is an urban fantasy trilogy featuring a predominantly female cast. I wrote it for everyone looking for an action-packed adventure tale driven by complex heroic (and villainous, and somewhere in-between) LGBTQ women.

Is it Suitable for Young Readers?

No. The series contains violence, language, and sexual content that make it inappropriate for younger readers.

What are the Books in the Series?

Awakening: Nearly a year after being shot and left for dead, Sergeant Rose Booker returns to active duty with the Worcester Police Department, hoping to put the past behind her — except she’s not sure it’s her past that’s haunting her.

When hard-drinking hellraiser Julie d’Aubigny enters Rose’s life, she promises to reveal the truth behind Rose’s nightmares — or are they memories? — of her death at the end of a hangman’s noose.

But first Rose must stop the mysterious madman waging a bloody campaign of vengeance that threatens to turn the city’s streets red. All she has to do is uncover his identity — and his own dark secret.

Transition: The adventure continues as Rose and her friends deal with the aftermath of the events in Awakening and face off against a new, deadlier enemy hellbent on revenge.

Endtimes: Rose, Anna, and Julie face the fight of their lives in the conclusion of the Well-Behaved Women trilogy.

All three titles are available as audiobooks on Audible, narrated by Darci Cole and Heather Auden.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read can read sample chapters from Awakening, buy signed copies, connect with me through social media, and get regular updates at my website: innsmouthlook.com

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.

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 – 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.