Weekly Update – July 20, 2021

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives is here!

Tricia finished the cover art over the weekend, and as you can see, it’s another fantastic, eye-catching piece. As that was the final element I needed to wrap up this project, I did that on Sunday, and the Kindle edition became available Monday. The print edition is in the pipeline and should be ready very soon — and then, of course, I get to work on the audiobook edition!

Here’s the official synopsis to tease you further. Read it, and then go pick up the fifth book in the series!

***

After surviving an unforgiving winter in the northern city of Além, Derek Strongarm and Felix Lightfoot are eager to lead their friends back to Ambride to enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

That idea goes right out the window when the companions learn about a major gathering of the four elven clans in City Lyth — Winifred Graceword’s home. Ancient tradition demands that Winifred heed the sacred call of her people, and who is she to reject ancient tradition?

Winifred immediate regrets her decision upon returning to City Lyth and reuniting with her estranged parents, who have yet to forgive their black sheep daughter for rejecting her birthright to follow her own path.

Derek and Felix thought Além was cold and unforgiving, but that place has nothing on Winifred’s mother, General Rhian Godswrath.

The mother – daughter reunion proves uncomfortable for all involved, but Winifred’s plan to keep her visit short and sweet falls apart when she learns why the long-separated elven clans have reunited: they intend to launch an expedition to the long-lost city of Wihend, in which no elf has set foot for centuries.

Except for Winifred, that is.

This news is not well-received, to say the least, but the elven coalition recognizes a valuable asset when they see one, and Winifred and her friends are pressed into service as guides for the expedition. They know the city, they know the dangers lurking within, and they know how to handle themselves in a fight. What could go wrong?

Everything. Everything could go wrong.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives is the fifth book in the irreverent, award-winning* fantasy series by Michael C. Bailey (Action Figures, Well-Behaved Women). Brace yourself for an epic tale of secret cities, malevolent monsters, arcane artifacts, bloody battles, feuding families, and more mother issues than any elf has a right to.

(* = The 2016 Bella Online Ebook Awards, gold medal in fantasy fiction)

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: The Kindle edition is available, the print edition is coming soon, and work on the audiobook edition is about to begin!

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.

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? Coming soon!

Untitled Sixth Book: The company finally returns home to Ambride, only to become immediately embroiled in a scandal threatening to consume the Ambride Academy of Magic. Scheduled for 2022 release.

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 – 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.

Station Identification Time

Who Am I?

I’m a writer originally from Falmouth, MA who now lives in Oxford, MA with my awesomely talented wife Veronica, who runs a business called Storied Threads.

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 preorder 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 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.

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? Scheduled for mid-2021 release.

Untitled Sixth Book: The company finally returns home to Ambride, only to become immediately embroiled in a scandal threatening to consume the Ambride Academy of Magic. Scheduled for 2022 release.

How Long Will the Series Run?

Unknown, but tentatively ten books.

Are They Available As Audiobooks?

The first four books 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 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.