Weekly Update – July 13, 2021

The cover for The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives is almost finished! Tricia is into the fine color work, which is when her pieces really come to life, as you can see at right.

Now, you might notice that the figure at center top — Rhian, Winifred’s mother — has undergone a significant change from the last draft. Tricia thought she wasn’t looking very prominent in the piece and needed to command more attention, which is perfectly in keeping with her character, so Tricia swapped out her formalwear and put her in armor.

There’s not much left to do but finish the color work and add the logos and text, and then we’ve got ourselves a brand-new Strongarm & Lightfoot adventure ready to go!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done, awaiting cover art. Tentatively scheduled for a summer release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

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 – July 6, 2021

Tricia continues to truck along on the cover for The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives. As you can see, she’s into the preliminary color work, which is when her creations really start to come to life.

So, who are these people? Going clockwise from bottom left, we have our own Winifred Graceword, her parents Alastair, Rhian, and Everett, and her younger brother Matias — but that’s all I’m going to give you for now. I’ll be posting the back cover text soon enough!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done, awaiting cover art. Tentatively scheduled for a summer release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

None schedule.

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 – June 29, 2021

Ah, one of my favorite parts of the creation process is upon me! Tricia has started sending me teases of her cover for The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives, including the bit to the right. I’ll tell you that the lady on the left is none other than Winifred, but the lack of her ever-present smile might have thrown you off. But who’s the smug jerk next to her? Is that why she looks less than thrilled to be there?

I guess you’ll just have to pick up the book when it drops, which should be later this summer!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done, awaiting cover art. Tentatively scheduled for a summer release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

None schedule.

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 – June 22, 2021

Finally got a full writing day in over the weekend! The eleventh Action Figures book continues to take shape, though what its final form might be remains a mystery. The thrill of being a pantser.

On an amusing note, I received a two-star review recently. I know that doesn’t sound amusing, but go ahead and read it and tell me it doesn’t make you laugh.

Effective villains? Ramping up story tension? HOW DARE I?!

Negative reviews are inevitable in this job, and you eventually learn to ignore them (or stop reading them), but ones this laughable are worth relishing. The guy’s complaining that partway through the story — he didn’t even finish reading the book before posting! — the villains have the upper hand. I decided to skim some of his other reviews, and he’s left similar complaints about other books in which the antagonists at some point had the upper hand. This is apparently his bugaboo, which he’s certainly entitled to, but if you only enjoy stories in which the bad guy is Skeletor-level ineffectual, you’re going to hate a LOT of great stories.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – Runs this week through June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I won’t be able to make my panel on creating superhero characters, but you should still check it out.

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 – June 15, 2021

The adjustment continues. I have a full, dedicated writing day coming up on Friday, my first in a few weeks. I’m honestly not loving the loss of writing time that comes with having a regular day job, but earning actual adult money that pays my bills takes the sting out a little.

FWIW, I’ll be working on the next Action Figures book, which is starting to shape up as the penultimate book in the series. The question is whether how much it will bring the series arc to an end — which sounds like a dumb thing to say considering I just called it the penultimate book, but I’m considering taking a page out of J. Michael Straczynski’s book and using the final book in the series as denouement for the whole series.

Now, if you’re a fan of JMS, you probably get what I’m talking about, but for those who aren’t familiar with his most notable creation, Babylon 5, the series was structured to offer its major climax more toward the middle of the overall story and use seasons four and five to let the aftermath play out to the series’ ultimate resolution. Even though that plan was altered due to the uncertainty of the show receiving its full five-season run — it looked like it was going to end with season four, so things were accelerated to get it all in — it offered a different approach to the traditional three-act story structure.

With Action Figures, I’ve introduced a lot of characters and concepts that will have far-reaching impacts in the world I’ve created. Problem is, I never planned to continue the series in perpetuity; the plan was always to wrap things up as the main characters transitioned from childhood to adulthood, and it feels like I’d be denying the readers by setting up a whole new set of pins only to never knock them down.

So, assuming things play out as I want (hope), the final book will tie off all the threads pertaining to the core cast and set the stage for future stories set in the AF universe, but not necessarily featuring the Hero Squad. Guess we’ll all find out together.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I won’t be able to make my panel on creating superhero characters.

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 – June 8, 2021

One of the new adjustments I’m making now that I have a regular nine-to-five job — yes, it literally is a nine-to-five job — is carving out time in my schedule for writing. It’s going to be a whole new rhythm to my life with new habits to develop, and this is the week I start to set those rhythms and habits. I had all yesterday morning for myself, so I made the best of it, and I’ll do the same with days off as they come — except for Sundays, which I always have off and are dedicated to working around the house or going on day trips with my wife.

Unless I really REALLY want to write. Then I’m writing.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I won’t be able to make my panel on creating superhero characters.

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 – June 1, 2021

Slow week this week, but that’s largely because I’ve spent it at my new day job. This is my first literal nine-to-five office job that pays a living wage ever. The bad side is that it cuts my writing time down a lot. The good side is: yay money to pay my bills!

Speaking of making money…

This topic comes up periodically in the writing community, and it’s a particular sore subject for me, and that subject is “writing for exposure.”

What’s that? you might ask. It’s when an entity, anything from a publisher to a freelance client, wants you to contribute your writing (or other art) to a project but makes it clear they’re not going to exchange money for your goods and services; they’re going to let everyone know that you, yes YOU, made that art, and they’re going to share your website URL with everyone, and your email address, your Amazon Author Central page, your Facebook page…or maybe, you’re just going to benefit from so many people seeing your creation, and those people are going to run right out to learn more about you, and what a boost for your career that will be!

Exposure.

This came up again last week when someone posted on a writers’ forum I belong to, soliciting submissions for a new startup genre fiction magazine that offered to pay for new material, but would only offer exposure for any previously published material. When I commented on this, un favorably, the publisher rather indirectly admitted that they don’t have the financial resources to pay every writer, only some of them — but hey, there were sooo many people interested in their brand-new, I never-heard-of-it-before STARTUP publication that the exposure they’d receive would be incredibly valuable.

Here’s my position on that, stated simply:

Working for exposure instead of money is BULLSHIT.

For starters, exposure has no real value, certainly not in the monetary sense. It can’t be spent, it can’t be exchanged for rent, food, utilities, medical bills, car repairs…it is worthless.

As a professional creative, you need to earn a living. You need income. Your art is your means of income — maybe one of many means, but it’s part of your overall personal revenue stream. You cannot afford to give it away for free — and once word gets out you’ll work for exposure, when the next person comes along wanting to tap your genius, guess what they’re going to ask you to do?

Copyright The Oatmeal/Matthew Inman

You bloody well should.

The last guy you worked for said, “Hey, I know someone who’ll do the job for free.” What makes you think this next guy is going to offer actual payment? And I can almost guarantee that if you stood your ground and asked for money, your would-be client would make you out to be the unreasonable one. How dare you want MONEY? For ART?!

But wait, you say. You’re not a professional writer, you’re simply a hobbyist, and money isn’t a big deal to you. You do it for fun, so you don’t care if you don’t get paid.

First off, the person to whom you’re providing free art is going to make money off of it, in some way, shape, or form. If they’re going to profit off your time, energy, and creativity, why shouldn’t you? Hobbyist or no, this is your art. If someone else stands to make money from it, you sure as hell deserve to make money from it.

And there’s a wider consequence to consider, and that’s the impact on other writers. Artists of all stripes are regularly devalued as unnecessary and inconsequential. We have chosen frivolous, selfish career paths instead of pursuing “real jobs.” And besides, anyone can do what we do, right? How hard is it to string a few words together?

Our efforts are widely considered as somehow universal, something anyone can do, so why should we be paid for that?

The reality is, what we do is not easy, it’s not something anyone can do. If it looks easy, it’s because creative professionals spent years of their lives perfecting their craft. The end user never sees all the time we dedicated to becoming skillful at our chosen art, they only see the result. We make it look easy because for us, it is (relatively speaking, of course).

When you give your art away for free, you reinforce the message that it has no value, that it’s something someone can obtain for free if they look hard enough. You do yourself, other artists, and art as a career a grave disservice.

Artwork is work. Don’t give your labor away.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics.

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 – May 25, 2021

ACX was on the ball this month, and The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs audiobook is now available!

This took longer to produce than usual due to what I’ll simply refer to as life getting in the way, but that happens — especially nowadays — but it’s finished and ready to enjoy. My narrator Heather did a bang-up job as usual, so give it a listen and please remember to leave a review!

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done. Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics.

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 – May 18, 2021

Thank you everyone who snatched up Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences when it dropped last week!

The book broke the top ten on one of Amazon’s best-seller lists and has been hovering in the top twenty all week, so it’s off to a strong start — and better yet, it’s kicking off that wave of interest in the rest of the series. Great incentive to get me working on book eleven!

Next, The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs audiobook is now in review with ACX. How long that review takes is a mystery. Last year, ACX apparently got deluged with audiobook submissions and their normal ten business day review window extended into, no shit, months. They claim to have since corrected the problem, but we’ll see.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Audiobook in final processing. Set for a May/June release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Final draft is done! Tentatively scheduled for a summer/fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft finished.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • NEW EVENT! Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics.

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 – May 11, 2021

It’s here!

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences has arrived for the Kindle! Presales were pretty solid, and the book hit #8 on Amazons’s teen & young adult superhero fiction best-seller list during its preorder phase.

Meanwhile, the first draft of book six in the Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot series is done! I’m going to let it sit for a while and take care of the final draft of book five, Elfish Motives, before working on a second draft.

And that is on top of working on reviewing preliminary audio for the Audible editions of The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs, and the first Action Figures book. I have the whole week to myself before I start my new day job, so I’m going to make the most of it.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook recording underway, scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Preliminary audiobook recording is finished. Tentatively set for a spring/summer 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Work on final draft has begun. Tentatively scheduled for a late summer/early fall 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book six: First draft is finished!

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • NEW EVENT! Convention of Heroes 2021 – June 21 – June 25. Join superhero authors for a series of virtual panels on writing superhero fiction and related topics.

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.