Weekly Update – June 21, 2022

As I write this, I am three days away from taking a long-delayed vacation to Quebec with my wife, so as you’re reading this, I am likely already drinking and stuffed with poutine and maple-based foods. Be jealous.

Anyway, in the interest of having something of note this week, since I am somewhat in-between projects, I’m going to mention that I recently made a small but important change to one of the Action Figures novels — specifically, Issue Seven: The Black End War.

Early on in the story, Carrie drops the phrase “get woke” in conversation with one of the extraterrestrial characters. It wasn’t a throwaway bit of dialog; it had a point. The story relied on that old sci-fi trope of universal translator technology, and I wanted to have a moment to illustrate that it was imperfect tech and couldn’t always accurately convey the meaning behind euphemisms.

I went with the phrase “get woke” because, at the time I wrote the story, it was common slang that referred to becoming educated and enlightened, particularly in regard to issues impacting marginalized populations. I generally avoid trendy slang because it has a habit on not aging well, but it was the first phrase to come to mind.

I should have listened to that instinct, but I couldn’t have foreseen that right-wing pundits and conservative politicians would co-opt the term and turn it into a mocking, sneering turn of phrase intended to belittle anyone who displays empathy toward people of color, queer people, etc.* It became something ugly and mean-spirited, which didn’t fit the story at all anymore, so I changed it. It still exists in older print and Kindle versions of the book and there’s no going back to fix that, but all future versions will have the new language.

It’s not the first time I’ve deleted problematic language from one of my books, and I would be surprised if it was the last time. That is both the beauty of language and the danger of language: it changes over time, and innocuous words and phrases can evolve (or devolve) to have new and more damaging meanings. Some authors would balk at changing their finished works because they prize the sanctity of the text above all, and generally speaking, I believe that once a book is finished, it should be left as it is and not constantly tinkered with, but in this case, I couldn’t let the text stand as it is. There was simply too much negative baggage associated with it, and it risked taking people out of the story, so it’s gone.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to change every single little thing that strikes someone as problematic. Someone is always going to find fault and I’m not going to agree with every criticism, but it’s incumbent on me as a writer and a human being to be mindful of problematic language in my work and make changes when they strike me as just and reasonable.

* = If you don’t know by now my personal politics skew left, I don’t know what to tell you.

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 two is done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 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.

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 21, 2022

Fanfare time! The second draft of the final book in the core Action Figures series, Zero Day, is done!

I spent Sunday focusing on the final chapter, the obligatory knock-down drag-out final battle between the Hero Squad and ShadoWorks, which runs a staggering 15 pages in manuscript form, which is easily the longest continuous action sequence I’ve ever written. Final word count for draft two: 129,462.

So, what happens now? Now it goes to my beta-readers for critiquing, then it comes back to me for further revisions, then it goes to my editor for her final pass, then back to me for my final pass and formatting. In other words, it’s going to be a few months yet before it’s ready for release.

What happens in the meantime? Well, I have some Strongarm & Lightfoot stuff to work on, for starters, and the first sequel/spinoff Action Figures book, so I am not lacking for projects.

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 two is done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 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.

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 – June 14, 2022

First, quickly, the second round of edits on Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day is almost finished, for really real. I’ve shaved it down to just under 130,000 words, but that may again change in subsequent drafts. I’ll be tackling the final chapter this weekend in one sitting. It’s the big final battle scene and it’s LONG, and I’d rather do the whole thing at once rather than break it down over a few days, to make sure it flows well.

Now, onto something more important…

It is traditional for businesses to hop on the Pride Month bandwagon every June and shill their products in a flagrant (and often hypocritical) attempt to cash in.

I’m not going to do that.

What I am going to do is make something extremely clear: I am pro-LGBTQ. Many, many of my friends are gay, lesbian, bi, trans, nonbinary, genderfluid, asexual — you name it, I know it. These people are more than friends; they’re my found family and I love them all.

If that’s a problem for you, stop following me, here and on social media. Go, and never darken my towels again, as Groucho used to say.

Don’t bother emailing me with your angry, homo/transphobic rants (unless you want me to post them all over social media with your names and email addresses attached, because I will absolutely do that). Just go away and take your bigotry with you. I promise you, I won’t miss you.

Why am I writing this? you may be wondering.

It was prompted by an angry, homophobic email received recently by my friend and fellow indie author Jeremy Flagg, who wrote in one of his newsletters about Pride Month and being a gay man and got some douchemagoo responding with what could be a boilerplate for homophobic anger. See for yourself:

What’s almost — ALMOST — funny about this is that this guy has apparently been on Remy’s email newsletter list for four years, and is somehow only now noticing the good Mr. Flagg is gay.

The dude is very open about himself, and his work is full of gay characters. It’s not exactly subtext here, but somehow, “Pat” needed to be hit over the head with a rainbow flag to finally realize what was going on.

I have to imagine there’s at least one person reading this who has read my work and never really noticed the queer characters. This email is for them.

Pst. Buddy. There are queer people in my books. Sometimes a lot of them. Because I believe in representation and I am pro-LGBTQ. Don’t like it? Tough. I’m not going anywhere and neither are the queer characters. That leaves one option, which is for YOU to leave. There’s the door. Don’t let it hit you on the way out.

If you’re still here, then awesome. Glad to have you. Or should I say, GLAAD to have you?

No, I shouldn’t say that. Too cheesy.

Anyway, that’s the diatribe for this week. Happy Pride to those who celebrate it. Take care of yourselves and stay safe, and remember there are people in the world who will love and protect you.

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 two is almost done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 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.

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 7, 2022

The second round of edits on Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day is almost finished, and it’s looking like it might stay above 130,000 words. I thought I might slim it down a little in the revisions, but I also tend to write fairly tight first drafts, so the length probably isn’t going to shrink much by the time it’s ready to publish.

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 two is almost done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 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.

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 – June 1, 2022

FINISHED! SORT OF!

The first draft of Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Zero Day is done. I laid down the last chapter on Sunday, and the current draft clocks in at a massive 131,782 words, which is a good 50,000 words or so beyond my typical novel length.

I’ve been asked several times why I’m finishing off the series in a single book instead of two smaller books, and I did consider it, but ultimately I decided it was more fan-friendly to give readers the finale in a single volume. You’ll pay less for one chunky book than you would for two smaller books, especially if you prefer print (I did the math); you won’t be stuck with a cliffhanger ending and then have to wait for the conclusion to drop; and from a storytelling perspective, there’s no ideal midway breakpoint. One book would end up being rather skinny and the other still pretty chonky.

Besides, this is a three-act novel with three clear breakpoints. If tackling a 150K+ word book in a single stretch is too much, you have two good places to put it down for a while, read something else, and then come back.

Now, the other big question: when is this bad boy dropping? Good question, one for which I don’t have a precise answer. I have several rounds of revision to tackle, and then beta-reading, and then more revisions, and then final edits, and then formatting. So, a lot of work lies ahead. My goal (hope) is to have it ready by late summer/early fall, but we’ll have to see how realistic that is.

I do promise you, it will be worth the wait.

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 is almost done. Scheduled for a mid-to-late 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.

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 24, 2022

We’re in the endgame! The National Superhero Day giveaway is nearing its end! Superhero-Fiction.com is giving one lucky winner the chance to win physical copies from 18 superhero authors. From action to romance and everything in between, this is a must-have prize package. If that’s not enough to get you excited, we are also giving away two sets of ebooks. Enter between April 28th – May 28th at https://superhero-fiction.com/nationalsuperheroday/ for your chance to win.

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 is almost done. Scheduled for a mid-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.

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 – May 17, 2022

The National Superhero Day giveaway is nearing its end! Superhero-Fiction.com is giving one lucky winner the chance to win physical copies from 18 superhero authors. From action to romance and everything in between, this is a must-have prize package. If that’s not enough to get you excited, we are also giving away two sets of ebooks. Enter between April 28th – May 28th at https://superhero-fiction.com/nationalsuperheroday/ for your chance to win.

In other brief news, I am in The Writer’s Block today, plugging away at the final action scene in the final Action Figures book. I’m so close to the end but I doubt I’ll finish it today. Still a lot of pins to knock down and denouement to lay out.

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 is almost done. Scheduled for a mid-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.

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.