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What’s Old Is New Again

First off, let me address the white elephant in the room: it’s now a week into October, and The Blood Contract still hasn’t gone live. I know I originally anticipated it would be released in June (I was so naïve in my youth), then said it should definitely be out by the end of September. So what happened?

Well, I’m still in the process of finishing up the cover, formatting it, and all those fun little final touches, but mostly, I’ve been waiting on a marked-up copy from my mother. She offered to proof it for me, but while in the process, she ended up hurting her back. Last I saw her, she was feeling pretty good on her pain meds, so I anticipate it won’t be long now (just take care of yourself, Mom! That’s far more important). Besides, an October release seems appropriate for this story.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep my writery self busy. The current chapter of The Shadow Without has proven to be slow-going, I think because I’m not entirely sure what its purpose is. It’s an add-on to my original rough draft, and I know where I want it to go, but I’m having a hard time making it an engaging chapter on its own. Then, after that, I need to completely retool the next chapter and the ending. And that will finish up the rough draft. Whoo!

Also, I am now done reformatting my entire back catalog. I’ve made the fonts smaller on all of my books, which allowed me to shorten the length and reduce the price (in most cases. Oddly some stayed the same). In the case of Ascension, I was finally able to reduce the size from 6X9 to 5X8, to match the rest of my books. I haven’t yet decided whether I want to completely retire the 6X9 version, or if I want to release a big font version (if demand necessitates it). Also, after asking co-workers, friends and family about their preference between the matte and glossy covers, matte won out in a landslide. So all of my covers are now sporting that finish.

Ascension isn’t quite available through Amazon yet, but should be soon. The new versions of The Four-Year-Old Guardian, Bravado/Dramatique, Together Alone, The Shadow Walker, The Shadow Within are ready now.

And yes, soon The Blood Contract will be added to that list.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Day Four: Temptation

173.2 lbs

Hopefully no one thought my lack of a day three meant I was passed out from food deprivation. In truth, I’ve been able to maintain the feeling of being full more easily than I typically do. Perhaps it’s because I’m not counting calories and carefully rationing out my meals. Instead, I eat my fill whenever hunger strikes.

What I have found strange is how quickly hunger pangs set in. I’ll go from feeling sated to ravenous in a relatively quick period of time. That being said, I don’t have a hard time becoming full again.

I’ve also been surprised at what’s been my greatest temptation so far. It’s not the bacon and ham enhanced hamburger my co-worker heated up, filling our small work environment with its tantalizing smells. It’s also not the pineapple upside down cake a different co-worker brought in.

No, my biggest temptation so far has been a bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos.

I swear I could smell them from across the room, begging me to eat just one (and knowing I wouldn’t be able to stop there). It didn’t help that my co-workers crunched on them throughout the day, assaulting my aural senses even when I was able to disengage my olfactory ones.

The crazy thing is, I rarely eat Doritos. I mean, I have nothing against them flavor-wise (and in that regard, Spicy Nacho was one of my favorites), but it wasn’t a snack I reached for all that often.

The mind is a curious thing. Especially when we deny it something we’ve been taught to crave.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

And For The Readers….

For those of you who actually tune in for news about my writing (I know, what a concept!) I thought I’d add a quick update. The Blood Contract is currently in the hands of one of my beta readers. I implemented the suggestions of one, and once I receive it back from the other and add my own changes, we should be gold. At this point, I’m still shooting to have it released by the end of the month, and I remain confident I’ll meet that goal.

I’m still deciding on a cover, but I have an idea I may end up going with if nothing else pans out.

Also, as of this writing, The Four-Year-Old Guardian has been rereleased in paperback, implementing the formatting changes I made to Bravado/Dramatique. This has allowed me to cut down the page length considerably, which means cutting costs to the consumer. I plan to follow through with the rest of my releases here in short order.

As always, thanks for reading!

S.L. Madden

174.8 lbs.

Yes, I lost a total of .2 pounds yesterday.

Now that might not seem like much (or none at all), but I’m excited. After depriving my body of carbs for so long (then slowly slipping the last few weeks), I thought my first week or so of savaging vegetation and fruits alike would wreak havoc with my body. I fully expected to pack on a few before I lost any. The fact I went down even such a miniscule amount fills me with hope.

I noticed I finished the day yesterday with a lot of snacks left over. Typically, I tear through whatever I bring with me, and end up ravenous by the time I get home. Not so yesterday. It remains to be seen whether this is all mental (as in, I was afraid of being hungry, so I was more conservative with my snacking) or if I truly do feel more full on this diet.

I’ve also discovered I’m afraid of blenders. I’m not sure why. Thinking back, I suppose I’ve never really used one (if I have, I can’t recall). It’s not that I’m afraid I’ll lose a finger or anything. I happen to have a knack for destroying all things I come into contact with. See: the failure of my PS3 drive, the untimely death of my TV (just a few nights ago *sob*), every gas-powered lawn mower I’ve used….

In any event, my wife has a fancy blender I’m afraid my rusty thumb will systematically destroy. Hopefully a few turns at the helm (with supervision, of course) will give me the confidence to try a solo mission. Otherwise, I’m going to be missing out on a lot of delicious smoothies.

After that, it’s onto the juicer….

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

A Fresh Start

Today marks the opening of a new chapter in the book of my life (gotta tie this into writing somehow, right?). Over the past several months, I’ve put an emphasis on losing weight and generally trying to better my health. Since hitting my record high weight last November, I’ve managed to lose 30 lbs. I achieved this through following a fairly strict low carb diet, and supplementing it with exercise (though not as much as I should have).

While I was happy with the overall results (I forgot what it was like to have clothes that fit!), I have to say the low carb lifestyle didn’t make me feel good. As much as I loved eating fats and losing weight (I was on the ketogenic diet), I never felt all that healthy.

Well, starting today, I’m doing a complete and total 180.

I’m going on a raw vegan diet. That means no meats. Nothing cooked. Salads, juices, smoothies, some nuts… this will be my life for the foreseeable future. I chose to do this first to support my wife in her efforts, as she’s had resounding success in the past following this diet. But as I looked into it more, I realized this was something I also wanted to do for myself. I have long stated I could eat a salad every day and not grow tired of it. Now I will put that to the test.

So goodbye burgers! I’ll miss you. Adios dairy. Let’s face it, we never really got along. Farewell bacon… hold on. I need a moment….

I know this particular diet may seem extreme (and perhaps even dangerous) to some people, but I’m committed to it. Hopefully the scorn and pity of others will help to sustain me during this time. And for those of you who have undergone this journey, I’m open to suggestions on how to make the transition easier.

I’ll continue to use this space to talk about my writing endeavors, but I’ll also use it to update my progress with this diet.

Starting now:

Day One:

175 lbs

Had a bloody nose this morning. Coincidence? Yeah, totally. A co-worker commended me for attempting to do this. Completely not the reaction I thought I would get, especially considering his love of animals (or at least the way they taste). I’ve noticed that despite the fact I have more snacks packed today than I typically do, there’s a little voice in my head telling me I won’t make it through the day, that I’ll be too hungry. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to eat it all even if I wanted to. Strange how our minds have a way of sabotaging us sometimes. Now that I think about it, I’m actually less hungry than I typically am around this time. Usually I can’t make it to lunch (1300) and end up eating around 1230. Now I’m halfway through this salad and I think I could’ve waited another hour before eating it.

Hopefully this will last into the afternoon, the period of time I usually get the munchies.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Second Time Around

While my next release, The Blood Contract, makes its rounds in the hands of my beta readers, I decided to revisit a previous entry in the series. Bravado/Dramatique was released in 2012 to favorable reviews, yet it was brought to my attention it was riddled with typos.  After a quick edit, I managed to post a much smoother version of it. Still, I’ve had it in the back of my head I would need to properly revise it someday.

That day is today.

Or, well, some day soon.

With the help of my mother (author Mickee Madden, in case you think I have a tendency to run to mommy with all my problems), I finished editing the book once again, to the point I feel comfortable calling it Revision II.  I was careful to keep the storyline and, as a whole, the writing intact, and instead chose to focus on the following items:

~Editing for mistakes.  I’d like to say there weren’t many, but that would make me a dirty damn liar.

~Formatting.  I’m taking advantage of this revision to shrink the font size. Why does this matter, you ask? Well, the smaller the font, the less pages the book runs, and the cheaper I can make it available to you, my loyal readers.

~Homogenization. As I neared completion of The Blood Contract, I realized I haven’t been entirely consistent throughout the series.  For instance, when Nick and Severance are talking inside Nick’s head, I’ve now changed it so Severance’s dialogue is both in italics and quotes.  Helps to separate his lines from Nick’s thoughts. Also, at times, I would write cat demon, and others, Cat Demon.  Little things like that drive me crazy, so I’m trying to fix them all.

~Dedication. I asked some posts back if it was bad form for me to change my dedications following my divorce last year. The response I received was no, it was perfectly fine to change them (my current wife particularly felt that way for some reason).

~Butting out. My mother has declared me the But King. While that may have been my nickname is high school (for completely unrelated reasons), what she’s referring to is my propensity to use the word but a lot. I didn’t really believe her until I went back through and tried to rework several sentences sans but. Even this post contains a but or two, but I’m not about to go back and change them.

Hopefully the changes will make for a smoother reading experience.  It’s my hope to go through the other two books in the series, then move onto the Unseen Things series after that. While some of these changes are exclusive to the printed version, the e-versions will also be updated some time in the next few days.  For those of you who have already purchased the eBook, it’s my understanding you’ll be able to download the new version once it’s available.

Which should be any day now.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

The End Is In Sight

Finally, after months of apologies, tears, bleeding orifices, and excuses, the rough draft for The Blood Contract is finally done!

Finally!

I’ll wait for the applause to settle down.

Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning, I managed to focus on the computer screen long enough to type the words The End.  I know I’m a few months late (I originally aimed for a June release), but in my defense, this is the biggest book in the Only Human on the Block series.  At nearly 125K words, it’s actually second only to Ascension in length.

Immediately after finishing the draft, I launched into working on my “rough edit,” which is essentially me making the changes proposed in group.  As of this writing, I’m 36% done with my rough edit.  When I finish (which I’m hoping will be this weekend), I plan to print it all out again and hand it over to my beta readers.  After that, I’ll take their suggestions into consideration, along with any other changes I want to make and… it’s release time!

I don’t have a date set in stone, but at this point, I’m aiming for the end of September.  That should give me enough time to accomplish a few things before NaNoWriMo hits in November.  First up, I plan to rerelease Bravado/Dramatique in both print and eBook.  When I released it back in 2012 (has it really been that long?), I was told there were a lot of editing errors.  Unfortunately, I can’t disagree with that.  So the new release is simply going to be a better edited version.  No new material will be added, as I feel it’s a tad unfair to go back and pad out my previous catalogue (unless I decide to do a “director’s cut” treatment down the road.  Hmm….).  To the best of my knowledge, anyone who has previously purchased or downloaded an eBook copy will be able to redownload the new version once I have it ready.

My second item of order is finishing The Shadow Without (formerly known as World of Shadows, and the third book in the Unseen Things series).  It was my NaNo book of 2012, and the rough draft has been languishing for the past several months.  Truth be told, aside from a few big chapters I need to add/modify, the bulk of the draft is done.  If I can’t get it out before November, I have little doubt I’ll be able to release it by the end of the year.

Thanks to all of you who have been waiting patiently (and even the impatient ones) for these books.  My life has been a series of ups and downs this past year, and I can’t say I’ve spent my time wisely, but I want to assure you, I’m back on track.  Once The Blood Contract and The Shadow Without are complete, each series has only one more book.  Then it’s onto new series and characters.

The end is in sight.  And it’s only the beginning.

Thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

ASCfyogaBDTogether Alone ImageswShadow Within Cover

20 Years After

My 20th High School Reunion has come and gone, and I survived to tell the tale.

Other than serving as a constant reminder that I truly am that old (although as a point of pride, I was carded at the event last night… this baby face still has it!), I didn’t really expect much from it.  In fact, I had no plans to attend.  Were it not for one of my friends I hadn’t seen in years requesting we meet up, I would have stayed home both nights, determined to finish my book while succumbing to the temptation of starting up my Playstation.

But I did go out, and the first night was just as awkward as I thought it would be.  Few remembered me, and those who did, I often couldn’t recall who they were.  On the rare occasion we knew who each other were, our conversations were brief and fell into awkward silence that was drowned out by more boisterous (read: drunk) members of the party.

I expected all this.  It was, after all, my primary reason for not wishing to attend in the first place.  What I didn’t anticipate was that I’d not only have fun, but I’d learn a few things about myself in the process:

*For those of us who were socially inept in high school, it’s a common idea that if we could only go back in time and redo it all with our current personality/confidence, it’d be so much different.  I know I assumed that for years.  And yet there I was, given the perfect opportunity to strut the new and improved me, and I resorted to being a timid wallflower, an observer and not a participant.  My out-of-town friend is Mr. Charisma and knows everyone, and I stuck to him that first night like a shadow afraid to be swallowed by the night.  I talked to people who probably never even noticed me in high school, joked and laughed with them.  Then the next night, when he wasn’t there, I’m not sure they recognized me.

And I’m okay with that.  It’s who I am.  It’s my safe zone.  My friends know I can be boisterous and joke, that I have a fairly quick wit (well, I like to think so anyway), and can say and do some rather crazy things.  I have a rather dry, sardonic sense of humor that doesn’t often play well in casual conversation, and it shuts down altogether in a group setting.  This is who I’ve always been.  And if that’s how people remember me, I did nothing to tarnish that legacy over the past two nights.

*I consider myself an observer, interested in studying characters.  I like to figure people out from a distance, try to piece together their story.  Yet I was approached by a fellow classmate last night who sort of turned all that on its head for me.

First of all, I wouldn’t have recognized him in a lineup.  Unlike some of my classmates, he had shed his teen face and adopted one of a man.  So when he approached me, I was already at a disadvantage for not recognizing him.  But that was only the beginning.

He proceeded to tell me all about myself.  Or rather, what could be gleamed from Facebook, this blog, and other social media outlets.  He knew I was a writer, had a daughter, was recently divorced, etc.  All I could tell him about his current life was his picture was that of a chicken.

What I didn’t tell him I was as shocked and amazed he remembered me after all these years as I was he even talked to me in high school.  I was even surprised when he accepted my friend request on Facebook.  He was outgoing and on a completely separate strata of popularity than I was.  It just so happened we were masters of the keyboard, and so we were placed together in a situation where we had ample time to joke and talk, while the sound of the other kids pecking away at their keyboards in an effort to catch up served as the backbeat to our conversation.

He remembered things about me I couldn’t quite recall, like the fact I had borrowed his Beatles albums, then returned them to his father (I actually remember this now, but had it been on a quiz prior to last night, I probably would have responded by writing random words in German).  He’d met me at a time when I was obsessed with ELO, and he was responsible for opening my eyes to The Beatles (that is something I’ve never forgotten).  And I introduced him to Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Not exactly equal, but it’s nice to know I had some manner of impact on his life.

So there he was, able to tell me all manner of things about myself, and I had nothing in return for him.  He told me of his wood bending business, how he had studied law and found it just wasn’t him.  He pointed out his wife on the dance floor, and gave me a brief back story to how they’d met.  It was loud and smoky and not the perfect place for a conversation, but I learned a lot about him in a short period of time.  Even better, he gave me a website so I could do a little investigation on my own (www.shop17mareisland.com).

Within minutes of looking at the site, I knew much more about him.  He has a beautiful baby girl, and of course, a lovely wife who attended the reunion with him.  And it turns out he’s an artist in the purest sense, and he channels that art through creating chairs that are not only beautiful, but sustainable.  It’s a wonderful site, and I highly recommend checking it out.

For all my sitting back and watching the world pass me by as I write their stories in my mind, it’s good to be reminded these are people out there, with rich, complicated back stories I couldn’t possibly hope to create all on my own.

*I learned that people know me as an author.  It’s strange considering I spend 40+ hours a week doing something completely different, and very little time in comparison writing, but I was approached by several people asking me about my books.  Which is when I also learned I need to step it up and promote myself better.  Telling everyone I write about stuff and things is no way to drum up interest.  I suppose this is why successful people have promoters (or their own innate charisma).

*Lastly, I want to point out that not one person asked if I was related to John Madden.  However, several people mentioned the Steve Madden shoe company.  So that’s progress.  Perhaps at their next reunion, people will be asking them if they’re related to S.L. Madden.

Or perhaps not.

Thanks for reading, and a very special thanks to everyone who put the shindig together, and all of those who made me feel welcome there, even when it was clear I was completely out of place.  I had a lovely time and look forward to seeing you all again in a decade or so.

 

S.L. Madden

Bit By Bit

I truly hoped this post would be to announce the rough draft of The Blood Contract was finished, especially considering I’m well past my June target to release the book.  Alas, that is not the case, but I am making good progress.  I only have a few more chapters left before I can type the words “The End.”

It’s impossible to say how long these final chapters will end up being, as I’m officially into unknown territory.  As long-time readers of this blog probably know, I had previously hand-written this series, and I’ve been editing them as I type.  Well, I have finally made it beyond where I stopped writing years ago.  While it’s fun to finally explore scenes that have been in my head for the past five years or so, it’s also a little frightening.

The handwritten copy was my safety net, a guide that led me down the path of the plot, even when I opted to veer from it some.  Now, I’m winging it.  I know exactly where the story is headed–I have from the start–but as I finish this penultimate book in the series and move on to the finale, there is a sense of dread I’ll drop the ball somewhere.  I’ve been jotting down ideas and taking notes, hoping to get back into that mindset.  For the first time since I stopped actively working on this story, it feels like it’s wide open.  Even knowing the end, I’m not fully sure what path it will take to arrive there.

I suppose all I can do is take a deep breath and trudge onward, hoping my vision meets everyone’s–including my own–expectations.

First, however, I’ve got to get this thing finished.  Hopefully next time I post, it will be to tell you just that.

Thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

Splitting The Shadow

For those of you who have been following this blog, you may have noticed I’ve been going back and forth a bit concerning the third book in my Unseen Things trilogy.  I wrote the first part of it in 2012 (really?  Sheesh….) for NaNoWriMo and since then… not a whole lot.

The issue I ran into at the time was the third book was shaping up to be quite a bit bigger than the first two.  And there was a definite change from part one to part two, to where it seemed it might be better served as two separate books.  So I split them up, calling them World of Shadows I: Proliferation and World of Shadows II: Invasion respectively.  That way each book could have its own release without me breaking my promise of a trilogy.

Well, what’s the point of promises if not to give us something to break?

I’ve been mulling it over, and I’ve come to the conclusion they truly are two separate books.  They’re no more connected than The Shadow Walker and The Shadow Within.  So I’ve decided to turn my trilogy into a quadrilogy.  My current plan is to refocus on finishing up the third book, now tentatively titled The Shadow Without, once I’ve completed The Blood Contract.  Hopefully this will be before NaNo hits again this year.  Then next year I’ll work on the final books for both series–Afterlife (Only Human on the Block V) and Twin Shadows (Unseen Things IV).  I’m still up in the air about the name changes (note: Twin Shadows was actually my original title for The Shadow Within), and as such, I’m open to suggestions.

Thank you everyone for your patience, and as always, thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

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