Looking back and looking ahead

Reviewing 2014 and previewing 2015 – A letter from LHP CEO Ian Thomas Healy

(tl;dr version)

(the long, much more interesting version below:)

Hello, friends!

It’s been an amazing year here at Local Hero Press, LLC, and I have a lot to go over with you, so buckle up!

For starters, we released two novels in the Just Cause Universe in 2014: Jackrabbit and Champion. Both were received very well and came strong out of the gate, which means there’s plenty more superheroes in store for you in the future. Champion represents the finale of what we call the Mustang Sally Trilogy, which chronicles heroine Mustang Sally’s growth from untested rookie to full-fledged superhero. That trilogy consists of Just Cause, The Archmage, and Champion. While you don’t need to read the JCU books in any particular order, as each is a self-contained story, those three definitely form a long story arc.

2014 also saw the release of Making the Cut, a mainstream Young Adult/New Adult title that combines a reality TV show with two girls’ love of cooking and cuisine. If you are in the habit of watching Food Network more than you ought to, or maybe just have a predilection for Chopped!, you may want to check out this one. We guarantee that if nothing else, it will make you hungry.

In the spring of this past year, a ragtag group of rebels superhero fiction authors formed an impromptu Guild called the Pen & Cape Society, dedicated to the promotion of superhero fiction as a genre and cross-promotion of each others’ work. To that end, Local Hero published an anthology of stories by several of those authors called The Good Fight, which showcases some great tales, including an all-new Mustang Sally short story that is a direct tie-in to the next JCU book in the pipeline (more on this soon).

Last but certainly not least, Local Hero grew in another important area. We are pleased to welcome our newest teammate, Managing Editor Alicia Howie. She will be helping take the company in some exciting directions over this coming year, and we couldn’t be happier to have her under our aegis.

Let’s now shift our focus to the coming year, and what kind of things you can expect from Local Hero Press in 2015.

Later this winter, you’ll get the JCU Omnibus, Volume 2, which will contain several new short stories that expand and deepen the Just Cause Universe.

In the spring, you’ll get the seventh (!) book in the immensely popular superhero fiction series The Just Cause Universe, called Castles. Castles represents a major change to the structure and direction of the JCU. Set in early 2009 in the first days of President Barack Obama’s administration, the Parahuman Resources Agency expands Just Cause into several additional teams spread across the country, and none other than Mustang Sally is tasked with the leadership of Just Cause: New York. It’s the first time Just Cause has had a presence in New York City since 2001. Not everyone is happy about the changes in the world of parahumans, and an old foe returns to try to shut down JCNY before Sally barely gets her feet wet in her new leadership role.

In the fall, we’ll return to the prior incarnation of Just Cause established in Day of the Destroyer with a solo Lionheart tale that follows him to Hong Kong in 1980 in an homage to the great martial arts films of the ’70s and ’80s in The Lion and the Five Deadly Serpents.

We already have the next three books in the series planned beyond that, so you can count on more Just Cause Universe stories coming your way at least through the beginning of 2017.

Another Pen & Cape Society anthology is on the way for early spring, called The Good Fight 2: Villains. Additionally, Local Hero Press will be opening to submissions for an all-new anthology of superhero fiction this spring for publication later in the year, so sharpen up your pencils and polish your word processing keys.

We’re looking to have a presence at some regional conventions in 2015. We’ll let you know when and where we will be. There are other projects in the pipeline, but it’s either too early or too much of a secret to tell you about them right now. Stay tuned to this channel!

Ian Thomas Healy, CEO, Local Hero Press, LLC

CHAMPION Release Day!

Champion is officially on sale worldwide, and can be ordered from the following outlets:

Amazon (print/ebook)

Smashwords (ebook)

iTunes (ebook)

Barnes & Noble (print/ebook)

KoboBooks (ebook)

CreateSpace (print)

Happy reading!

When Just Cause hero Orb is murdered using a new kind of nanotechnology, Mustang Sally will stop at nothing to find and bring to justice his killer. Not even her longtime mentor Juice’s dismissal from his position as team leader can distract Sally from her mission.

A sensational new parahuman named Champion brings old-fashioned morals back to the world, training others to follow in his footsteps and heralding the onset of a new age of heroism. Champion isn’t all that he seems, and there is a sinister side to his organization. To find Orb’s killer and uncover the motive for his murder, Sally must risk everything that makes her a hero.

Champion is the sixth novel in the popular Just Cause Universe superhero fiction series.

Champion Ebook Cover

Countdown to CHAMPION: 5 days!

Champion releases on November 25th! You can preorder it from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes for only $3.99 ebook or $14.99 print! In the meantime, here’s an exclusive look at some of the custom art done for the book trailer by artist Justin Wasson along with a relevant excerpt from the story!

champion_panel_7 Sally sniffled and stuck her arms through the sleeves. Her arms, at least, seemed unchanged, and her hands were still her own. She didn’t know how she would have dealt with looking down to see a stranger’s hands attached to her arms. As she shrugged her shoulders into the robe, her hair flopped forward. Gone were her cornsilk-yellow tresses, replaced instead by raven colored locks like Sondra’s. “Black hair?” She tugged on it, as if it were a wig and she could remove it, but it pulled at her scalp, attached at the roots.

Frazetta girls should be brunettes,” said Minerva. “Are you hungry? I’m starving.”

Sally realized that yes, she did have a yawning hole in her belly and a raging thirst to go with it. “Yeah.”

You should be careful,” said Ment. “It might be hard to walk on your new legs at first. You’re taller now. Like, a good four inches.”

True to Ment’s prediction, Sally jarred her teeth together when her feet hit the floor before she was ready. She swayed out of balance as she realized her center of gravity had changed. Big hips and a big bosom made it hard for her to move the way she was used to, and her lengthened legs made it feel like she was wearing five-inch platform shoes. She wished she had her running boots on for the lateral support they provided, because she was terrified that she would twist an ankle with every step.

Here’s the full trailer:

Countdown to CHAMPION: 8 days!

Champion releases on November 25th! You can preorder it from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes for only $3.99 ebook or $14.99 print! In the meantime, here’s an exclusive look at some of the custom art done for the book trailer by artist Justin Wasson along with a relevant excerpt from the story!


Lie down, please,” said Minerva. Her pupils dilated until the blackness took over her eyes.

Sally stretched out on the cold vinyl. Goosebumps raised all over her skin. She knew the room wasn’t any colder than the rest of headquarters, but it felt like a refrigerator to her. Nervous sweat trickled down from under her arms, making the vinyl beneath her feel cold and slippery. Shivers started somewhere in the center of her chest and kept making her arms and legs twitch at random moments. “I’m sorry,” she said through chattering teeth. “I’m r-really cold. And sc-cared.”

Ment rolled his chair around until he was sitting above Sally’s head. He placed his fingertips lightly against her face, with his pinkies at the bottom of her jaw and thumbs on her temples. “Deep breath, Sally,” he said.

She did as he asked and then she was warm, comfortable, and relaxed. The tightness in her chest disappeared and she felt as if she were laying out in the Arizona sunshine. She thought about saying something but her jaw seemed to be frozen in place. Her entire body was paralyzed, although she could still breathe without difficulty. It was as if Ment had disconnected all her voluntary muscles. At a distant, irrational level, she was terrified. The cooler, logical part of her brain that often took charge when she was operating with her perceptions accelerated, understood that the paralysis was completely necessary for the changes Minerva was going to implement.

Minerva’s eyes were like pools of obsidian in the depths of her burgundy hood. She stood to one side of Sally and placed her hands upon Sally’s legs. A mild, throbbing ache began beneath Minerva’s hands, like a muscle that was about to cramp up or shin splints. If anything, Sally would have likened it to growing pains, and perhaps that’s what they were. She longed to flex her legs, to stretch them and twist them to try to alleviate the discomfort, but it never grew beyond a slightly irritating level. She imagined that without Ment running interference in her pain receptors, it might very well be the most painful thing she’d ever endured. Sally wondered what Minerva was doing to her. Minerva hadn’t discussed any specifics about how she was going to alter Sally’s appearance, and Sally had been uncomfortable asking about the details, afraid she would somehow distract or confuse the young woman who was reshaping her flesh.

So she lay there, unmoving, and took it as bravely as she could.

Here’s the full trailer:

Countdown to CHAMPION: 11 days!

Champion releases on November 25th! You can preorder it from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes for only $3.99 ebook or $14.99 print! In the meantime, here’s an exclusive look at some of the custom art done for the book trailer by artist Justin Wasson along with a relevant excerpt from the story!

Champion_panel_5I don’t believe anyone is home,” said Minerva. “I don’t detect any trace of explosives or dangerous chemicals. Not even normal household chemicals.”

No mental signatures,” added Ment.

There’s power to the building, but nothing’s drawing it,” said Superconductor, alighting beside Minerva. “I think this is a dead end.”

Let’s be sure. Jason, you’re up” said Sally.

Jason grinned. He pushed his hair back and pulled the half-mask up over his face. He didn’t wear the mask that often. Jason had freely admitted to Sally that he only wore the mask at all because he liked the aesthetic it gave the rest of his costume. Half the time it stayed crumpled down around his neck anyway, though, because he said it itched. He cracked his knuckles and stepped out of the van into the chilly air.

Sally accelerated her perceptions to watch as he lumbered up to the door at what was for him a dead run. The play of his muscles beneath the outer velour layer of his brown and gray costume almost drove her to distraction. As he took the steps onto the porch, Sally grabbed the signed warrant in its envelope and sped across the walk to accompany her fiancé.

Jason shouldered into the door, which splintered into fragments. “Just Cause,” he bellowed like he’d practiced it. “We have a warrant.” He proceeded to stagger into the front room of the bungalow and skidded to a halt amid the wreckage of the door and surrounding framework that his broad shoulders had broken.

The room was empty of any furnishings. A great cloud of dust roiled around the confused Jason. Sally’s heart sank. She made a rapid circuit of the house and verified her fears. “It’s empty. Nobody’s been in here in months.”

Here’s the full trailer:

Countdown to CHAMPION: 13 days!

Champion releases on November 25th! You can preorder it from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes for only $3.99 ebook or $14.99 print! In the meantime, here’s an exclusive look at some of the custom art done for the book trailer by artist Justin Wasson along with a relevant excerpt from the story!

champion_panel_2The screen filled with the image of Stefan of the Young Guns, although he’d drastically altered his appearance. Gone was his shaggy blond hair, replaced by a military-looking cut. Instead of his customary wetsuit, he wore a tight-fitting yellow bodysuit with red trim and an unfamiliar logo on the chest that resembled a stylized letter C encapsulated in a swooping diamond shape. “My name is Surfboy, and I wasn’t good enough for Just Cause.”

The camera made quick cuts to the other members of the Young Guns. All four were similarly attired to Surfboy, and each one announced his or her name and that they also weren’t good enough for Just Cause.”

What is this?” Sally murmured.

I don’t know,” said Jason.

The camera cut to Champion, standing amid the four Young Guns heroes. “They may not be good enough for Just Cause, but I promise you they are good enough to be heroes, to save lives, protect property, to show leadership and fortitude in the face of danger, and to be champions for law and order.” The camera pulled in tight on his mask. “My name is Champion, and I can see the potential in these young heroes, like I can see it in so many others. How many times have you needed help? And how many of those times did Just Cause come to your aid? They are a government organization, and they only deal with the problems of our government.”

That’s not true!” said Sally.

Hush,” said Keith.

The problem with Just Cause is that it is inaccessible to everyday people like you, and that is why I’ve created the Champions. Real heroes who are ready, willing, and able to help you with all manner of problems and needs from small to large. With the Champions, you always know you are getting the best possible assistance we can provide, and we do so out of our moral obligation, not because we are being paid by your tax money.”

The camera returned to Surfboy. “Do you have a parahuman ability that you thought was too slight to make a difference? Or you’re afraid to use it because of unwelcome attention? We accept any and all parahumans into the Champions. We’ll even accept non-parahumans who can meet our requirements. We are a non-discriminatory organization.”

Our identities are known,” said Toxic, who looked strangely unfamiliar without her trademark punk getup. “But yours doesn’t have to be. With us, you can remain safely anonymous. You never need to worry that your loved ones will be in danger.”

Here’s the full trailer:

Countdown to CHAMPION: 16 days!

Champion releases on November 25th! You can preorder it from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes for only $3.99 ebook or $14.99 print! In the meantime, here’s an exclusive look at some of the custom art done for the book trailer by artist Justin Wasson along with a relevant excerpt from the story!

champion_panel_9Stand back,” said Dannan, “and watch for flying splinters.” She dug her fingers into the door’s edge, braced her feet against the adjacent bulkhead. For what seemed an eternity to Sally, Dannan strained against the recalcitrant door. Her muscles stood out under her skin like bunched cables. Sweat rolled down her cheeks and her face grew red with the effort. The door creaked and groaned as Dannan applied her strength to it. Just when Sally was ready to call it off and have Champion come down to try to blast through the door, it slid open several inches with a ragged sound of tearing metal.

That’s it.” Dannan gasped for breath. “I can’t move it any more than that.”

Water spilled out of the engine room, flooding the small landing on which they stood, to a depth of almost a foot. Fresh smoke poured out through the gap from fuel oil patches that burned while floating on the surface. Sally peered through the opening. Inside, the engine room looked like some artist’s twisted representation of hell, with random patches of flames and broken, tangled equipment scattered throughout from the explosion.

No way,” she grumbled. “It’s such a mess in there I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

Nobody else is going to fit through that crack,” said Dannan.

Here’s the full trailer:

Countdown to CHAMPION: 18 days!

Champion releases on November 25th! You can preorder it from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes for only $3.99 ebook or $14.99 print! In the meantime, here’s an exclusive look at some of the custom art done for the book trailer by artist Justin Wasson along with a relevant excerpt from the story!

Champion_panel_1There!” Champion pointed toward the horizon, where they could see the shadow of a large ship against the dark water and low clouds. It had a ruddy glow around it that suggested fire.

Sally glanced over at Johnny. “You still fast enough to cross open water?”

Watch me,” he retorted with a grin. “You still can’t figure it out?”

Johnny accelerated and ran down a boat ramp right across the water.

Shit. Shit!” Sally skidded to a stop right at the edge of the ramp. She’d spent years trying to run across water and had never succeeded where other, slower speedsters could leave her far behind. The physics should have allowed her to skip across the surface like a thrown flat stone, moving her feet like a speed skater, but every time she’d ever attempted it, she wound up having to swim back to shore in soaking wet humiliation. Maybe Jason was right and it was some kind of psychological failure on her part.

But analyzing her inability wasn’t going to get her any closer to the incoming tanker.

Champion swung around, recognizing her frustration, and lowered a hand to her. She reached up and grabbed hold of his wrist as he clamped his fingers around hers. He pulled and lifted her into the sky as if she weren’t any heavier than purse. “Thanks,” she said as the ocean and horizon swung crazily back and forth in her vision. She forced herself not to panic at being dangled over a long drop with a hard stop at the bottom. She’d fallen much further when she’d fought Destroyer in Guatemala, slipping off his battlesuit as he flew to freedom. It had been thousands of feet, and she’d had plenty of time to panic before a last-minute rescue saved her life. She swore not to freak out again, but she was already gasping for air as the tightness in her chest threatened to overwhelm her.

Champion twisted himself in mid-flight, pulling Sally up to him where he could put both arms around her waist, supporting her from above like they were tandem skydiving. “Better?” he called over the rush of air.

Sally licked lips that had gone dry and chapped. “Yeah. Sure.”

Beneath them, Johnny Go skated across the waves, flanked on one side by Toxy as she rode on a solidified cloud of pollution and on the other by Surfboy, skimming the surface with Dannan perched on his back like he was, well, a surfboard. As they approached the distressed vessel, Sally could see a column of black smoke issuing from the stern and flames roaring around the bridge. An out-of-control, burning oil tanker; Sally couldn’t think of much else scarier.

Here’s the full trailer: