Preview! Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women

Benchmark time, and it’s a great point in the process of putting a new novel together!

I finished work on the second Action Figures novel last month and sent it off to my editor, who last night sent back her first batch of notes. That means it’s time to roll out the first two chapters of Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women!

Here’s the cover blurb, which gives you a taste of the story:

The world is full of magic…and it wants the Hero Squad dead.
Winter in Kingsport heats up when the necromancer Black Betty comes to town, on the hunt for the Libris Infernalis, a legendary book of dark magic with the power to raise hell on Earth…literally.
Facing power beyond their understanding, the Hero Squad turns to the Protectorate’s resident sorceress for help, but the mysterious Dr. Enigma seems to have an agenda of her own. Is she on the side of angels, or is she a devil in disguise?
What are you waiting for? Go read the sample chapters now!

Of course, if you haven’t even read Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins, you might be a little lost. Easy fix! Go to this page and click on the cover image to jump to to buy book one.

FYI, that specific link comes courtesy of Amazon’s Affiliate Program, to which this website now belongs.

Action Figures – Issue Two – An Introduction

Benchmark time! Draft four of Action Figures – Issue Two is done, and now it’s off to my editor-slash-sister-in-law Tori for a final review. That means it’s time to start chatting this thing up.

So, what happened in book one?

Well, you could always buy a copy and read it, but if you’re going to be that way…

In Action Figures – Issue One – Secret Origins, we met the Hero Squad, a group of aspiring super-heroes — Carrie “Lightstorm” Hauser, Matt “Captain Trenchcoat” Steiger, Sara “Psyche” Danvers, Stuart “Superbeast” Lumley, and Missy “Kunoichi” Hamill — as they embarked on their first adventure. The teens ran afoul of Archimedes, a renegade artificial intelligence; the deadly mercenary Manticore; the mysterious mastermind known simply as the Foreman; and local super-hero Concorde, leader of the Protectorate, who tried (and failed) to ground the fledgling super-team.

What’s book two about?

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women picks up a few days after the events of issue one. There’s no rest for the weary Squad as they find themselves in the middle of a feud between the necromancer Black Betty and Dr. Enigma, the Protectorate’s expert of all things magical and supernatural. The prize is the Libris Infernalis, a book of powerful dark magic — powerful enough to summon ancient demon-gods capable of laying waste to the planet.

What else happens?

The team learns more about their super-human capabilities thanks to Doc Quantum, leader of the Quantum Quintet and one of the world’s greatest minds; Missy undergoes some frightening changes; the Squad meets the Entity, the Protectorate’s mysterious fifth member; and Nina Nitro shows Carrie what it takes to play in the super-hero big leagues.

There’s also a little bit of romance in store for Carrie, but I would like to assure readers, there are and will continue to be NO LOVE TRIANGLES.

Hey, man, why the hate for love triangles?

One: they’re overdone. Every bloody YA series has a love triangle, it seems. Two: they’re a cheap, lazy way to generate tension in a story. There are better, more interesting ways to explore romance in a story than simply playing the Archie-Betty-Veronica card. Three: they can overwhelm the other, more important things going on in the story. In The Hunger Games series, the idea of a young girl being forced into government-sanctioned gladiatorial games gets overshadowed in media stories by the Katniss-Peeta-Gale triangle. Oh, yes, let’s focus on the cutesy romance instead, downplay the tragic death of hundreds of children over generations in the name of keeping the poor in their place.

But I digress…

Anything else I should know?

Make sure to read the acknowledgements in the back of the book, because I’ll be adding a little Easter egg for readers.

When will book two be available?

My goal is to have it out in March. That will depend in large part on how quickly my editor and my cover artist finish their respective jobs. I don’t like to be pushy or set hard deadlines on people who have other, more important responsibilities, so things will wrap up when they wrap up.

Will the book be available for the Kindle?

It will, although the e-book version will probably come out after the print edition. Formatting the manuscript for Kindle is a whole ‘nother project in itself.

Stay tuned for updates as they become available!

Action Figures – The Next Step

Action Figures has been out for about two months now, and I’m pleased with the sales and response so far. I haven’t been selling hundreds upon hundreds of copies, but there are quite a few out there, which means there are people who might talk up the book or give it as a gift for Christmas; the book has received some extremely positive reader reviews; and I’ll be putting the Kindle version on-sale for 99 cents on Cyber Monday — all things that can goose sales.

I’m also hoping to encourage people to give it a try with this announcement: draft one of book two is done!

I know some readers don’t like to start a series until it’s underway, or at least until the author shows this will in fact be a series and not just a one-off story with an unfulfilled promise of continuing, in the case of self-published authors. I understand, when someone self-publishes, it could easily end up being nothing more than a lark with nothing serious behind it, but I don’t want to be one of those guys.

So, what is book two about? Let me tell you…

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women takes place almost immediately after the end of book one. The story explores magic in the world of Action Figures with the introduction of Dr. Enigma, the Protectorate’s consultant on all things mystical, who is called in after rival sorceress Black Betty gets her hands on a book of powerful dark magic — her main weapon in an all-out assault on humanity.

Trivia: Dr. Enigma was originally planned for book one, but she didn’t work with the story I told, so I saved her for book two. Her personality changed quite a bit from her first iteration; when I swapped Enigma out for Nina Nitro, Nina got Enigma’s personality so she could serve as a friend, mentor, and supporter for the Squad. Enigma Mk. II is more secretive, a bit darker, and her loyalties and motives are suspect. She’s a more complex character, and fits the story I’m telling much better.

I haven’t set a tentative release date beyond “spring 2014.” There is still a lot of editing to do, then it goes out to my test readers, then it comes back to me for any necessary story changes, then it goes to my editor/sister-in-law for final edits and proofing — and all the while, my cover artist Tricia will be working on yet more awesome art for the book.

And, because this is how my brain works, and because I am an obsessive writer, I am already mentally plotting book three. I have some ideas, and I know what sort of thematic elements I want to explore, so it’s very possible next year will see not one but TWO Action Figures novels!