Weekly Update – January 25, 2022

The sad con-related news continues. I received a vendor acceptance email Sunday from Boskone, and I promptly replied that I would be passing on the 2022 show.

It was tough decision to make because I desperately miss doing shows, but in another sense it was an easy call. Omicron appears to be on the decline, but I had no confidence that things would be safe enough to justify doing an event with a crowd, and I know way too many people who have tested positive in the past few weeks alone. I’m not ready to risk being around a lot of people quite yet.

Not that there would necessarily be a lot of people there, which was my other motivation for sitting out this year. Boskone is doing a hybrid live/virtual con this year, which means in-person attendance will be lower than normal, and that means fewer people in the dealers room to spend money. It would have been a significant financial risk on top of a safety risk, and I don’t need to be dealing with either monetary loss or getting sick right now.

But let me end this week on a more upbeat note, and that’s a glimpse at the nearly finished cover art for The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses! It just needs its logo and title added and it’ll be ready for the world! Look for that announcement soon!

Art by Patricia Lupien

WRITING PROJECTS

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Print and Kindle editions have been formatted and are now awaiting finished cover art! Scheduled for January/February 2022 release.

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 – January 18, 2022

Got a lot of good work in during my non-Arisia Arisia weekend. The next Strongarm & Lightfoot book is fully edited and formatted and now awaiting its cover art, and I got through a key scene on the next Action Figures book.

Normally I would now be looking ahead to Boskone, but one, I haven’t heard back from anyone about my dealers room application, and two, the Omicron wave is still forging ahead and the live portions of the event might be cancelled anyway. And even if they weren’t, my confidence in making it through a con is low, considering that in the past two weeks more than a dozen friends have tested positive for Covid — all mild cases so far, thankfully, but it doesn’t inspire me to go out in public at all.

WRITING PROJECTS

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Final draft is finished! Tentatively scheduled for early 2022 release.

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.

Action Figures – A Series Overview

What’s it About?

The series focuses on Carrie Hauser, a 15-year-old girl who one summer experiences two life-changing events: her parents announce they’re getting divorced, and she gains superhuman abilities after encountering a dying extraterrestrial after he falls to Earth.

Her adventure begins after Carrie and her mother Christina move back to Christina’s childhood home town of Kingsport, Massachusetts, and Carrie meets four teens with powers of their own: superhero fanboy Matt Steiger, who owns a pair of magic gloves that can produce any object he can envision out of thin air, like a living cartoon character; Sara Danvers, a telepath and telekinetic who is afraid of her own abilities; the easygoing Stuart Lumley, who possesses superhuman strength; and Missy Hamill, an adorable motormouth with enhanced strength and reflexes.

The teens form a superhero team almost on a whim, but soon find themselves fighting for their lives against very real super-villains – much to the dismay of Kingsport’s hometown hero Concorde, leader of the super-team The Protectorate.

Who is this Series For?

Fans of superhero comics, TV shows, and movies in general, but particularly of titles featuring teen heroes such as Young Justice, Teen Titans, Young Avengers, and Champions.

The tone is generally lighter than a lot of YA books out there now. While there is drama and conflict, and some later stories deal with darker issues, I try to keep the series fun, upbeat, and optimistic.

Is it Suitable for Young Readers?

Action Figures is a PG-13 series that contains mild to moderate profanity, non-graphic violence, some mature themes, and later on in the series mild sexual content.

An added word about the violent content: while the violence is not graphic, the consequences are not downplayed. This isn’t sanitized Hollywood violence. People get hurt just as they would in real life and do not easily shrug off injuries, and in some cases the characters have to deal with the emotional trauma of their experiences.

What are the Books in the Series?

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret OriginsCarrie and her new friends in the Hero Squad (yes, they know their team name is awful) find themselves caught in the crossfire as the deadly mercenary Manticore comes to Kingsport, on the hunt for the rogue artificial intelligence known as Archimedes. Soon to be available through Audible!

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women – The sorceress Black Betty threatens to raise hell – maybe literally – as she pursues her vendetta against the Protectorate’s resident paranormal expert Dr. Enigma.

Action Figures – Issue Three: Pasts Imperfect – Missy’s life is turned upside-down when she learns the truth about the source of her powers, and her connection to the bloodthirsty killer Buzzkill Joy.

Action Figures – Issue Four: Cruel SummerSara finds herself in the crosshairs of the mysterious hero killer the King of Pain, but to save herself, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear.

Action Figures – Issue Five: Team-UpsThe Hero Squad, still reeling from their devastating encounter with the King of Pain, get a little help picking up the pieces from their friends in the Protectorate and the Quantum Quintet.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play – The Squad finds itself outnumbered and under-powered after one of their members goes missing – and at the worst possible time as foes from their past reappear, more dangerous than ever and ready to exact revenge.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War – On Earth, Carrie Hauser is a hero, but on the far side of the galaxy, she’s just another soldier on the front lines of an interplanetary war against the terrorists in the Black End.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage – Carrie returns to Earth to reclaim her life, but life has moved on without her. Does she have a place with her team, her friends, or her family anymore?

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury – Black Betty is back, and ready to unleash Hell — literally, but can the Hero Squad trust Dr. Enigma to have their backs? Or does she have her own dark agenda?

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences – The Hero Squad learns that hard way that no good deed goes unpunished and the sins of their past have not been forgotten.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven – The final book in the series? Maybe? Tentatively scheduled for early/mid-2022 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: Stepping Up – Collects the first three books in the series (Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, Pasts Imperfect) and features a new foreward by Patrick Hodges and a new introduction by the author.

How Long Will the Series Run?

The series is plotted out to eleven, possibly twelve books in the main series. There are potential spinoffs in the works, but the core Action Figures series will come to an end by 2023.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read can read sample chapters from Secret Origins, short stories set in the Action Figures world, buy signed copies, connect with me through social media, and get regular updates at my website: innsmouthlook.com

Weekly Update – January 11, 2022

This week is a bit of a downer for me because of Arisia cancelling. Normally I’d be checking my bank, making sure my Square reader was charged, updating signage, packing — all that good pre-show prep stuff, but instead, I’ll be locking myself in my office all weekend to grief-write. So, yay productivity?

WRITING PROJECTS

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Final draft is process. Tentatively scheduled for early 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Arisia 2022 – Cancelled due to pandemic, 2023 show tentatively scheduled for January 13 – 16, 2023.

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 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 – January 4, 2022

The countdown to Arisia 2022 has begun, and we’re less than two weeks away from my first major event since 2019.

Arisia again confirmed over the weekend that the con is still a go as a live event, and as things stand now, organizers are expecting a smaller crowd than usual and continue to require vaccinations and masks all around. There’s one more update due to pop up on the Arisia website before next weekend, so keep an ear to the ground in case the Omicron spike prompts a last-minute cancellation.

WRITING PROJECTS

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Final draft is process. Tentatively scheduled for early 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Arisia 2022: January 14 – 17, Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel. The event has a robust attendance policy due to Covid, which you can read here. Panel schedule is as follows:
  • Writing Helpline for Action Scenes: Friday, 7 PM, Marina 2. When writing an action scene, there are times authors find themselves stuck. The writer has one idea and the scene has another. Or perhaps a writer realizes they’ve written themselves into a corner. Maybe the scene is simply boring. Join this panel of writers as they discuss their own experiences writing effective action scenes and offering advice for common problems in writing action.
  • Crafting Memorable Villains: Saturday, 4 PM, Marina 1. It’s been said that every villain is the hero of their own story. Speculative Fiction is populated with compelling assassins, thieves, witches, con artists and mean girls, who are as complex and compelling as the heroes they come up against. What makes villains and anti-heroes irresistible? Our panelists will share how to craft the perfect villain and explain why anti-heroes and villains are so important in their stories. Find out how much fun it can be to give in to the dark side!
  • Shop Talk: Quitting Time: Saturday, 5:30 PM, Faneuil. Calling quits on a story doesn’t have to be a sad situation. Panelists will bring to the table times when a project petered out, a novel got shelved, or the pursuit of writing had to be paused for a time. The question to explore: why did you stop writing and how did you move on from that decision?
  • The Mushy Middle: Conquering the Midpoint Swamp: Sunday, 4 PM, Faneuil. What happens when you come up with an intriguing premise, but around page 50, your story falls apart? Our panelists will discuss the pitfalls of navigating the second act swamp; how they plot; ways to clarify your hero’s journey; coping strategies including beat sheets, the mini movie method, and mirroring; various ways to brainstorm past a block; and other ways to cut the flab from that mushy middle.

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 – December 28, 2021

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve Eve Eve, everyone! Hope your Christmas was good — or at least better than mine.

Unfortunately, my wife and I learned the hard way that our geriatric bulldog Beatrix (seen here evoking Winston Churchill) does not travel well anymore. She was miserable the whole time we were in NYC visiting my wife’s family, so for her sake we cut the visit short and brought her home so she could be comfortable and in a familiar environment.

On a happier note, the time we did get in was lovely, and I came home with a stack of new board games and enough Home Depot gift cards that I was able to buy enough materials to begin the next phase of my office renovation project: built-in shelves for all my books and knickknacks! Which, admittedly, might not be exciting to you, but it makes me happy.

Finally, two brief Arisia updates. One, as per the most recent official bulletin, Arisia 2022 is still a go as a live event and there are no plans to take it the virtual route again. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then, but any cancellation announcements, if they come, aren’t going to be made until closer to show time, so keep an eye on the Arisia website for any updates.

Two, in addition to moderating the panels on writing fight scenes and knowing when to quit a writing project, I’ve been added as moderator to the panel on writing villains. Woo!

WRITING PROJECTS

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Final draft is process. Tentatively scheduled for early 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • Arisia 2022: January 14 – 17, Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel. The event has a robust attendance policy due to Covid, which you can read here. Panel schedule is as follows:
  • Writing Helpline for Action Scenes: Friday, 7 PM, Marina 2. When writing an action scene, there are times authors find themselves stuck. The writer has one idea and the scene has another. Or perhaps a writer realizes they’ve written themselves into a corner. Maybe the scene is simply boring. Join this panel of writers as they discuss their own experiences writing effective action scenes and offering advice for common problems in writing action.
  • Crafting Memorable Villains: Saturday, 4 PM, Marina 1. It’s been said that every villain is the hero of their own story. Speculative Fiction is populated with compelling assassins, thieves, witches, con artists and mean girls, who are as complex and compelling as the heroes they come up against. What makes villains and anti-heroes irresistible? Our panelists will share how to craft the perfect villain and explain why anti-heroes and villains are so important in their stories. Find out how much fun it can be to give in to the dark side!
  • Shop Talk: Quitting Time: Saturday, 5:30 PM, Faneuil. Calling quits on a story doesn’t have to be a sad situation. Panelists will bring to the table times when a project petered out, a novel got shelved, or the pursuit of writing had to be paused for a time. The question to explore: why did you stop writing and how did you move on from that decision?
  • The Mushy Middle: Conquering the Midpoint Swamp: Sunday, 4 PM, Faneuil. What happens when you come up with an intriguing premise, but around page 50, your story falls apart? Our panelists will discuss the pitfalls of navigating the second act swamp; how they plot; ways to clarify your hero’s journey; coping strategies including beat sheets, the mini movie method, and mirroring; various ways to brainstorm past a block; and other ways to cut the flab from that mushy middle.

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 – December 21, 2021

Christmas is coming! It’s practically here!

I quote the Grinch intentionally because, honestly, I’m feeling Christmas 2021 less than I usually feel the holiday. I’m not a big Christmas guy to begin with, but the last few years have taken a toll on my holiday cheer. The loss of two good friends, along with the Christmas party they hosted every year, coupled with recent back-to-back family funerals, my usual end-of-year lethargy, and a dose of pandemic fatigue have taken the wind out of my sails in a big way.

Fortunately, my creative energy is back at normal levels following a bit of a dry spell that hasn’t helped my mood any, so that’s been keeping my going well enough. And then there’s the excitement of Arisia 2022, which — as of this writing — is still a go for a live event. Obviously, this may change depending on what Covid is doing, but things are currently still on track.

Speaking of Arisia, it looks like my panel schedule is set, so come find me at the times and locations below — when I’m not pushing paper in the venders room, that is.

WRITING PROJECTS

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Final draft is process. Tentatively scheduled for early 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • NEW EVENT! Arisia 2022: January 14 – 17, Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel. The event has a robust attendance policy due to Covid, which you can read here. Panel schedule is as follows:
  • Writing Helpline for Action Scenes: Friday, 7 PM, Marina 2. When writing an action scene, there are times authors find themselves stuck. The writer has one idea and the scene has another. Or perhaps a writer realizes they’ve written themselves into a corner. Maybe the scene is simply boring. Join this panel of writers as they discuss their own experiences writing effective action scenes and offering advice for common problems in writing action.
  • Crafting Memorable Villains: Saturday, 4 PM, Marina 1. It’s been said that every villain is the hero of their own story. Speculative Fiction is populated with compelling assassins, thieves, witches, con artists and mean girls, who are as complex and compelling as the heroes they come up against. What makes villains and anti-heroes irresistible? Our panelists will share how to craft the perfect villain and explain why anti-heroes and villains are so important in their stories. Find out how much fun it can be to give in to the dark side!
  • Shop Talk: Quitting Time: Saturday, 5:30 PM, Faneuil. Calling quits on a story doesn’t have to be a sad situation. Panelists will bring to the table times when a project petered out, a novel got shelved, or the pursuit of writing had to be paused for a time. The question to explore: why did you stop writing and how did you move on from that decision?
  • The Mushy Middle: Conquering the Midpoint Swamp: Sunday, 4 PM, Faneuil. What happens when you come up with an intriguing premise, but around page 50, your story falls apart? Our panelists will discuss the pitfalls of navigating the second act swamp; how they plot; ways to clarify your hero’s journey; coping strategies including beat sheets, the mini movie method, and mirroring; various ways to brainstorm past a block; and other ways to cut the flab from that mushy middle.

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 – December 14, 2021

At long last, the audiobook version of Action Figure – Issue One: Secret Origins is available!

The audiobook dropped on Saturday and is now ready for listening on Audible, and will be available through Amazon and iTunes shortly.

I have a limited number of free codes to hand out for anyone who’d like to check it out. If you’re interested, send me a message via the Contact Mike page and I’ll set you up. If you like what you hear, please feel free to leave a review (though this is not necessary, simply appreciated).

WRITING PROJECTS

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

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Final draft is process. Tentatively scheduled for early 2022 release.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • NEW EVENT! Arisia 2022: January 14 – 17, Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel. The event has a robust attendance policy due to Covid, which you can read here. Panel schedule is as follows:
  • Writing Helpline for Action Scenes: Friday, 7 PM, Marina 2. When writing an action scene, there are times authors find themselves stuck. The writer has one idea and the scene has another. Or perhaps a writer realizes they’ve written themselves into a corner. Maybe the scene is simply boring. Join this panel of writers as they discuss their own experiences writing effective action scenes and offering advice for common problems in writing action.
  • Crafting Memorable Villains: Saturday, 4 PM, Marina 1. It’s been said that every villain is the hero of their own story. Speculative Fiction is populated with compelling assassins, thieves, witches, con artists and mean girls, who are as complex and compelling as the heroes they come up against. What makes villains and anti-heroes irresistible? Our panelists will share how to craft the perfect villain and explain why anti-heroes and villains are so important in their stories. Find out how much fun it can be to give in to the dark side!
  • Shop Talk: Quitting Time: Saturday, 5:30 PM, Faneuil. Calling quits on a story doesn’t have to be a sad situation. Panelists will bring to the table times when a project petered out, a novel got shelved, or the pursuit of writing had to be paused for a time. The question to explore: why did you stop writing and how did you move on from that decision?
  • The Mushy Middle: Conquering the Midpoint Swamp: Sunday, 4 PM, Faneuil. What happens when you come up with an intriguing premise, but around page 50, your story falls apart? Our panelists will discuss the pitfalls of navigating the second act swamp; how they plot; ways to clarify your hero’s journey; coping strategies including beat sheets, the mini movie method, and mirroring; various ways to brainstorm past a block; and other ways to cut the flab from that mushy middle.

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.

Action Figures – A Series Overview

What’s it About?

The series focuses on Carrie Hauser, a 15-year-old girl who one summer experiences two life-changing events: her parents announce they’re getting divorced, and she gains superhuman abilities after encountering a dying extraterrestrial after he falls to Earth.

Her adventure begins after Carrie and her mother Christina move back to Christina’s childhood home town of Kingsport, Massachusetts, and Carrie meets four teens with powers of their own: superhero fanboy Matt Steiger, who owns a pair of magic gloves that can produce any object he can envision out of thin air, like a living cartoon character; Sara Danvers, a telepath and telekinetic who is afraid of her own abilities; the easygoing Stuart Lumley, who possesses superhuman strength; and Missy Hamill, an adorable motormouth with enhanced strength and reflexes.

The teens form a superhero team almost on a whim, but soon find themselves fighting for their lives against very real super-villains – much to the dismay of Kingsport’s hometown hero Concorde, leader of the super-team The Protectorate.

Who is this Series For?

Fans of superhero comics, TV shows, and movies in general, but particularly of titles featuring teen heroes such as Young Justice, Teen Titans, Young Avengers, and Champions.

The tone is generally lighter than a lot of YA books out there now. While there is drama and conflict, and some later stories deal with darker issues, I try to keep the series fun, upbeat, and optimistic.

Is it Suitable for Young Readers?

Action Figures is a PG-13 series that contains mild to moderate profanity, non-graphic violence, some mature themes, and later on in the series mild sexual content.

An added word about the violent content: while the violence is not graphic, the consequences are not downplayed. This isn’t sanitized Hollywood violence. People get hurt just as they would in real life and do not easily shrug off injuries, and in some cases the characters have to deal with the emotional trauma of their experiences.

What are the Books in the Series?

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret OriginsCarrie and her new friends in the Hero Squad (yes, they know their team name is awful) find themselves caught in the crossfire as the deadly mercenary Manticore comes to Kingsport, on the hunt for the rogue artificial intelligence known as Archimedes. Soon to be available through Audible!

Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women – The sorceress Black Betty threatens to raise hell – maybe literally – as she pursues her vendetta against the Protectorate’s resident paranormal expert Dr. Enigma.

Action Figures – Issue Three: Pasts Imperfect – Missy’s life is turned upside-down when she learns the truth about the source of her powers, and her connection to the bloodthirsty killer Buzzkill Joy.

Action Figures – Issue Four: Cruel SummerSara finds herself in the crosshairs of the mysterious hero killer the King of Pain, but to save herself, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear.

Action Figures – Issue Five: Team-UpsThe Hero Squad, still reeling from their devastating encounter with the King of Pain, get a little help picking up the pieces from their friends in the Protectorate and the Quantum Quintet.

Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play – The Squad finds itself outnumbered and under-powered after one of their members goes missing – and at the worst possible time as foes from their past reappear, more dangerous than ever and ready to exact revenge.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War – On Earth, Carrie Hauser is a hero, but on the far side of the galaxy, she’s just another soldier on the front lines of an interplanetary war against the terrorists in the Black End.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage – Carrie returns to Earth to reclaim her life, but life has moved on without her. Does she have a place with her team, her friends, or her family anymore?

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Hell Hath No Fury – Black Betty is back, and ready to unleash Hell — literally, but can the Hero Squad trust Dr. Enigma to have their backs? Or does she have her own dark agenda?

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences – The Hero Squad learns that hard way that no good deed goes unpunished and the sins of their past have not been forgotten.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven – The final book in the series? Maybe? Tentatively scheduled for early/mid-2022 release.

The Action Figures Omnibus – Volume One: Stepping Up – Collects the first three books in the series (Secret Origins, Black Magic Women, Pasts Imperfect) and features a new foreward by Patrick Hodges and a new introduction by the author.

How Long Will the Series Run?

The series is plotted out to eleven, possibly twelve books in the main series. There are potential spinoffs in the works, but the core Action Figures series will come to an end by 2023.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read can read sample chapters from Secret Origins, short stories set in the Action Figures world, buy signed copies, connect with me through social media, and get regular updates at my website: innsmouthlook.com