Weekly Update – February 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Recording of the audibook edition has begun, with Heather Auden returning to narrator duties.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

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

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

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 heroes take 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. Early 2020 release.

Elfish Motives: Tentative late 2020 release.

How Long Will the Series Run?

Unknown, but tentatively ten books.

Are They Available As Audiobooks?

Scratching a Lich is currently available on Audible. Assassins Brawl should be available before the end of the year, and Blades of Glory and Sworded Affairs will be available in early 2020.

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 – February 18, 2020

Boskone is done for the year, so now I’ve got a little bit of down time before my next show, a smaller local book fair (details below). It was, unfortunately, another slow show sales-wise, but I spoke to a lot of people about writing and publishing, and made a few new friends, so I can’t complain (too much).

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Recording of the audibook edition has begun! Heather Auden is returning to narrator duties, and I can’t wait to hear what she does with the Noble Blades. Set for spring/summer 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

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

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – February 11, 2020

It’s Boskone week! I’ll be in the dealers room from opening on Friday evening through closing Sunday afternoon — not on any panels, alas — so come on down and say hello!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Audiobook reading copy is prepped and ready to go. Set for spring/summer 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Boskone 2020 – February 14 – 16, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. No panels this year, but I’ll be in the dealers room again.

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 – February 4, 2020

There’s a little repetition this week because I stupidly forgot to update the date in the headline of last week’s post, so people might have thought it was a repeat. My bad.

So, to begin, the print edition of Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury is now available! The book had a phenomenal release, making it to #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list for new releases in the teen superhero fiction category and #4 on the overall best-seller list for that category.

Now, I’m going to reiterate a little rant I went on last week regarding representation in my work. I hope you read it through, because it’s a subject that means a lot to me.

A reader review of Hell Hath No Fury griped that the inclusion in the novel — there are several LGBTQ characters — was there for the sake of it and did nothing to move the story along. There was also a crack about the series clearly displaying a “Massachusetts mindset,” which I assume is a dig at my East Coast liberal values.

(I don’t deny these values, BTW, and they inform my work, and shall continue to do so. If that’s a problem, you can stop reading my stuff any time.)

For the most part, the review doesn’t bother me. Bad reviews are inevitable, and you have to shrug them off to keep writing. And that the reader was griping about inclusion tells me this is a person whose opinion has no value for me.

But I really hate this whole school of thought that straight white cis characters, particularly male characters, don’t have to justify their existence in a story. Default characters simply *are* and don’t need to move the story with their defaultness.

Think about that for a minute. How many default characters, particularly straight white men, affected the plot by their race, gender, or sexuality? Luke Skywalker would have been the exact same character if he’d been dark-skinned (which, let’s be honest, would have made sense for a guy who grew up on a desert planet). Ash Williams would have been just as delightfully obnoxious as a gay man. He just would have delivered the “Gimme some sugar, baby” line to Ted Raimi instead of Embeth Davidtz. And their stories could have been told without any changes.

But people of color? Queer characters? Very frequently female characters? They apparently need a REASON to be there, otherwise their existence in the story is pointless. It’s “forced diversity.” It’s inclusion for the sake of it and therefore has no value or merit.

Surprise surprise, this opinion is typically aired by a default human (straight, white, cis, usually male).

I know this next comment might be a little incendiary, but I’m going to say it: demanding that non-default characters justify their existence in fiction is subtle bigotry.

Really, it is. It’s someone objecting to another person existing in a public space because of their gender, sexuality, skin color, etc. It’s someone asserting that a non-default person needs to pass some ill-defined and arbitrary litmus test to justify their presence.

To be clear, you’re not necessarily a full-blown racist/sexist/homophobe/transphobe for pushing back against “inclusion for the sake of it,” but you absolutely are engaging in racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic behavior.

Yeah, no, sorry, you are.

Stories are for everyone. EVERYONE. And sometimes that means creating characters who appear to non-default readers, because they like to see themselves in stories, too. It can’t always be about you.

Besides, women have been able to enjoy stories with predominantly male casts, people of color have been able to enjoy stories with predominantly white casts, and queer people have been able to enjoy stories with predominantly straight casts for generations — often because they didn’t have a wealth of alternatives, but the point stands.

You, default human, should be able to enjoy stories with diverse casts. It’s not that hard.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft well underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Audiobook reading copy is prepped and ready to go. Set for spring/summer 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Boskone 2020 – February 14 – 16, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. No panels this year, but I’ll be in the dealers room again.

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 – January 28, 2020

The print edition of Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury is now available!

And with that, book nine is one hundred percent in the can, and I can move on to other projects — including a brand-new idea I’m fleshing out now. More on that as it develops.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Audiobook reading copy is prepped and ready to go. Set for spring/summer 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Boskone 2020 – February 14 – 16, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. No panels this year, but I’ll be in the dealers room again.

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 – January 21, 2020

New Release Day!

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury is available now available for the Kindle! Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered a copy and made book nine a #1 new release on Amazon!

The print edition is finishing up this week and should be available in a few days!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: First draft underway, tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: This collection of books one through three — Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, and Pasts Imperfect — with new cover art by Tricia Lupien, is set for a mid-2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Blades of Glory: Audiobook reading copy is prepped and ready to go. Set for spring/summer 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Ready for editing. Tentatively set for an early 2020 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Book five is in the plotting stages. Tentatively scheduled for a late 2020 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Boskone 2020 – February 14 – 16, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel. No panels this year, but I’ll be in the dealers room again.

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.