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Well, I thought I had a good run today. Felt like I wrote a lot. Finished the chapter I’ve been working on and moved onto Chapter 20 (finally a different POV… woo hoo!). So it felt pretty good. Doing the math, however, I only wrote 785 words. That’s…not so good.

In my defense, I did end up messing around quite a bit with my shared documents. I’m still trying to wrap my head around OneDrive (really starting to feel my age with all this newfangled stuff coming out).

But hey, progress is progress and onward I go.

For anyone interested, today’s writing was done while listening to The Octopus by Amplifier. Great album.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

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I had a bit of an abridged lunch today but I managed to get in 1102 words on AfterLife. Slow progress to be sure, but I’m almost done with this chapter that’s been tripping me up. I hope the next few go much more smoothly. I recently moved so I’m hoping once I’m settled in I can get back to writing at a faster pace.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Smashwords, Young Lad

Just a quick note, http://www.smashwords.com is currently have an Authors Give Back sale, good through May 31st. There are tons of great books for sale and for free, including mine! If you somehow stumbled across my blog and haven’t read any of my books, here’s your chance!

All seven of them are currently 100% off! It’s (exactly) like I’m just giving these things away!

Okay, as much as the salesman in me loves exclamation points, I need to stop using them so graciously. There really are some amazing deals and reads there right now. Which, let’s face it, who couldn’t use some fantastical worlds to lose themselves in these days?

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

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First and foremost, greetings! I hope everyone is doing okay out there in these crazy-ass times. I know I’ve recently marveled out how quickly I became accustomed to putting a mask on before entering a store with no actual intention to rob it. Crazy days, indeed.

So, old business first, I completely failed to achieve my 30K word goal I boasted about in my last post. I got to maybe 3000 then decided I absolutely hated the direction. I rewrote it again… and again. And maybe again. Hard to recall. The important thing is, I managed to get past that scene and put the pieces into place to move forward. Unless I decide later I hate it. We’ll see.

Thanks to the Corvidity of it all, I’ve actually been getting (read: forced) to take a lunch. I can’t honestly say I’ve spent every lunch period writing but there have been quite a few.

So, as of this writing, I currently have 71,270 words written for AfterLife. To put that into perspective, the first book in the series, The Four-Year-Old Guardian, was roughly 63,058 words, and the last book, The Blood Contract, was about 124,434.

By my calculation, I’m a little less than halfway done with this draft. Not terribly impressive given how long it’s been, but I’m working on it. My plan is to update my blog every time I make progress with my current word count at the time.

Everyone take care of yourselves and be mindful of others. And always, thanks for reading!

S.L. Madden

1463

The past several years I’ve been pretty consistent in my unerring failure to finish NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a form of self-torture writers and those who aspire to be writers undergo in the month of November. The goal is to write 50,000 words for a previously unwritten story. I’ve accomplished it once then, apparently, decided I was better at failing it.

So why not jumpstart my writing by undergoing a self-imposed baby NaNo on my own?

I’ve set my fairly modest goal at 30K words in the month of March. It being a 31 day month, that clocks in at less than 1000 words a day. That, I have to admit, doesn’t seem all that intimidating.

I ended up spending time at the beginning of my writing session today taking notes, so I didn’t get as far as I would have otherwise. I did, however, manage to get out 1463 words, putting me on a good track toward victory.

If all goes well, I’ll finish up March 30,000 words richer. And if I can do it the month after that and the month after that, I just might get this book out during my lifetime.

I’ll keep posting my running tally here as the month goes on, to keep myself motivated and honest.

As always, thanks for reading.

S.L. Madden

What’s Old Is New (Maybe)

As I slowly inch my way toward completing both AfterLife and Twin Shadows (yes, both books are still very much happening), I’ve been going through some of my previous books. And, as I think most creative sorts who produce a thing can attest to, I want to change them.

No major changes, mind you. Nothing that would alter the course of the story. There are just some scenes that could use a little sprucing up. Perhaps I hurried through them when I should have let them relax and breathe a bit. In some rare cases, I have whole scenes I wish I had added in earlier.

In some ways I feel like the age of digital distribution has allowed content creators the freedom to add to their works more easily than was allowable in the past. It’s as simple as uploading the changed document. No need for a reprinting or rerelease. But is it fair to those who already purchased and read the story in its original state? I’m pretty sure digital copies can be redownloaded for the edits, but paper copies obviously stay as they are.

What say you, fellow travellers? I plan to do some minor edits for punctuation and typos regardless, but do you think it would be fair to add in scenes to a previously published book? I wouldn’t be against publishing the additions here so those who had paper copies could read them if that’s a concern. And truth be told, I don’t think I’d add much. A sprinkling of seasoning for taste if you will.

Please, let me know what you think and as always, thanks for reading.

S.L. Madden

Success In Failure

Greetings, fellow travelers!

In my last post (which admittedly was far too long ago) I mentioned I was going to take a crack at RPM 2019. It’s roughly akin to NaNoWriMo but for writing songs. The goal was to create 10 new songs during the month of February (they always pick the worst months for these things).

Well, February came and went and I didn’t quite achieve the goal. First off, I never would have truly beat the challenge, as participants were asked to upload their finished songs in order to have them count. My songs are never really finished. I’m about the furthest thing from a professional musician as one could get and still consider it a hobby. I suppose if I hired someone to redo my vocals and guitars, re-record the keyboards, master the songs and rewrite my lyrics I might come close to having a finished work. As it is, I write and record for myself and those poor unfortunate souls I feel comfortable enough with to subject to my aural torture.

All of that notwithstanding, I failed to meet even the number of songs I intended to write. At best, I put together fragments of seven songs, only one of which I had previously written the lyrics to. Of those seven, I’ve only subjected others to one of them. Another is almost ready to unleash upon those I consider friends (we do tend to hurt the ones we love).

Still, despite coming up short, I consider it an overall victory. Much like with my writing, I had been out of the music making business for a time. I’ve written a ton of lyrics, recorded some really rough (like super rough) demos and worked on a few of my older songs, but it had been awhile since I could say I had felt my creative juices flowing. Those seven songs jazzed me up (though none of them are actually jazz) and got me excited to work on more. I’ve been finding myself dropping dope phat beats and sick-ass rhymes on a more continual basis. At least in my head, I have.

And now that I’ve been able to jumpstart that part of my brain back into being, I’m turning my focus once again on writing. I’ve still been working on that cursed fifth book, Afterlife, which I assure you all is still on its way, though I’ll be the first to tell you it’s taking too long. So to refresh my mind, I’ve been going through the previous books (and finding some errors which I plan to fix… sorry!). I want to make sure I don’t leave any plot threads dangling or forget about characters. I know it’s been a slow, arduous process and I’ve been promising forward momentum for some time now, but I promise progress is right around the corner.

And because I’m not content explaining why I’ve sucked at putting out a new book (two if you count the third book in the Unseen Things series… yikes), I also wanted to announce my plans to work on a story with my mother. For those of you unfortunate enough to have never met her, she is Mickee Madden, author of the Everlastin’ series (among many others). Seriously, if you’ve never read that book and you have an affinity for Scottish dialect and ghosts, stop reading this and go check it out. Actually, no, finish reading this, then click on her name to go to her author page on Amazon (assuming I didn’t mess up that link).

Awhile back, I approached her with a very rough idea I had for a story, a basic premise, really. After talking it out, we decided we would work on the story together, round robin style. I’m going to start it out then pass it onto her, without any knowledge of what she plans to do with it ahead of time. Then she’ll send it back to me and so on.

I’m not sure what will come of it, though I can honestly say I’m excited to see. I tend to be a very private person with my writing, keeping plot twists to myself (how else am I supposed to gauge how well they land?), so I never considered myself to be much of a collaborative writer. Yet here I am, related to the person who taught me (almost) everything I know about writing (and there’s still oh so much more for me to learn from her). Why shouldn’t we put our noggins together to see what kind of goodies come out?

Despite all of this, I don’t think working on this story is going to derail me from completing the previous irons in the fire. If anything, I have a feeling it might energize me. Much like working on music has pushed my mind into songwriting mode.

Whatever comes of it all, I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. I only hope I can reward it someday (sooner rather than later).

As ever, thanks for reading.

 

S.L. Madden

That Which Tests Us

Have you ever run across an old friend with whom you used to share everything, yet somehow you had allowed time and circumstance to drive you apart? I’ve found it usually either proves to be quite awkward, making it painfully obvious the two of you no longer have much in common, or it’s as if no time at all has passed.

Without knowing which way this will go, I greet you all, old friends.

I apologize for being away for so long. I feel bad about it and have my theories on why it has proven to be so difficult for me to write here on even a quasi-regular basis. But I don’t want to dwell on that. I feel I have far too many posts saying I’m sorry and trying to explain away my absence. Instead of focusing on the past, I want to look at the present and the future.

For starters, I want to announce that I participated in NaNo last November (okay, that’s the past now, but it’s the fairly immediate past… kind of). Anyone who has read my posts over the years will likely be familiar with NaNo and not at all surprised I took a stab at it. After all, I’ve attempted it every year since 2011. This time, however, I beat it!

First things first, NaNo (or NaNoWriMo or even National Novel Writing Month) is an exercise of sorts for writers and wannabes, wherein one attempts to write at least 50K words in the course of the month of November (arguably one of the busiest months of the year *grumble, grumble*). The only other time I’ve beaten the 50K barrier was back in 2012 when I wrote the third book in the Unseen Things series (which, holy cow, that was 2012? I really need to finish that book already).

Every year since then, I’ve announced on my blog that I was going to try it. Shortly thereafter, I announced that I failed and I crawled away, licking the wounds caused to my ego. This year, I decided I wouldn’t say word one about it. I wondered if perhaps the pressure of it was causing me to fail in years past. So I worked on my story in private and then, when I finally crossed the threshold (52, 878 words, to be exact), I would announce that I had not only won, but I was getting back into writing more consistently. The trick, I had discovered, was to stay after work and get my writing in. I was too tired by the time I got home, too burnt out from staring at a screen at work for 10-12 hours. Only, after I won, I didn’t blog about it. I thought about it, mulled over what I might say, even started a few rough drafts, but couldn’t bring myself to post anything. A week went by, and I felt a little silly but thought there was still time to make the announcement. Then another week. And a month. And before long, I realized I hadn’t adopted any long-term strategy for writing. I did what I had to do to beat NaNo, but it had done nothing to help me get back into the groove. It’s one thing to add a few extra hours to my workday every now and then, but it wasn’t a very viable solution.

And I’ll be honest, I still don’t really have one. I’ve been looking around for a cheap laptop, thinking I might be able to start a new routine with one. I don’t write much at home, though I have written a few new chapters (that I immediately wanted to rewrite). Usually by the time I get home, sitting in an office chair staring at a computer screen is the last thing I want to do. But the passion for writing has returned to me and the creative juices are flowing freely (they were dark days when they had completely dried up thanks, in no small part, to the medication on I was on.).

Thanks to audiobooks, I’m “reading” more than I ever had in my entire life, and the puzzle pieces of my stories are starting to all come together. I feel ready to move on and create again and finish what I had started. I’m sure all of this sounds rather small but I assure you that to me, it’s huge. Writing is the way I process data and shape it into things that make sense to me. When that went away, I felt lost, alone in a way I never knew was possible. I feel it working again. I just need to shape and direct it and reconcile it with my life as it currently is.

Writing wasn’t the only thing I had lost during that time. Creating music is my alternate venue of choice for creativity and it, too, had completely dried up on me. I went from writing a song or two a week to nothing for months. I scribbled down some lyrics here and there and even tried a bit of recording, but it went about as well as my writing had. Now, I feel both of them pulling at me, urging me to create. I’ve been working on a small EP about the joys of work (write what you know, they say), and I probably have hundreds of lyrics at my disposal, should I ever get around to needing a new song to work on.

A few days ago, I discovered there’s a musical equivalent of NaNo that urges the participant to write 10 new songs (or 35 minutes worth) in the month of February (the shortest month of the year. It’s like these people are trying to punish us). I immediately signed up for it and now I’m just waiting for February 1st to get here so I can jump in. As far as I can tell, there are no rules about the quality of writing. Only that it be something new that I haven’t worked on before. Because my singing sounds like an eclectic blend of alley cats making sweet feline love and Hot Wheels toy cars being ground up in a Vitamix, my songs have only ever been for my own personal enjoyment (and the personal suffering of a few of my closest friends who are willing to subject themselves to them). So I’m not terribly worried about the quality.

Still, I know, without a doubt, I’m going to be able to do this. And then I’ll have 10 new songs to listen to, 10 pieces of music that doesn’t currently exist. Just as I’ll soon rewrite those chapters I worked on (I didn’t feel as if they’d turned out very well, so the workshop in the back of my head went into overdrive and finally gave me some direction. Unfortunately, it involves undoing that which I had just done, but it’ll be better for it in the long run). I still haven’t quite figured out the best way for me to manage my time when it comes to my creative pursuits, but I know I’ll be able to do that as well. I spent far too long feeling unwhole, restless and confused.

I’ll let my music sort all of that out. In the meantime, I’ve got some books to finish.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

XII

As my daughter’s birthday approaches, I’m reminded of the fact the anniversary of the genesis for my Only Human on the Block series is upon me. For it was while I was in the hospital awaiting the birth of my niece twelve years ago–who is only a month older than my daughter–I first started scribbling ideas on a napkin. Some of those concepts would be changed by the time I eventually put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard (Myles was named Melvin originally, Reva was a late addition to the tale, I upped the ages of the protagonists from kids to teens, etc.), yet a surprising number of things I jotted down played out as planned. I knew it would be five books, had a rough idea for what each book would be about and had a very basic backstory before the night was over.

One thing that has stayed consistent since my initial conception is the ending. Then and now, I knew it would be more of a transitory event, something leading to a spin-off trilogy. Over the years I’ve toyed with not making it a separate story at all, simply making it eight books long, but that has never felt right. Though, it must be said, even as I wrote the end down on that napkin twelve years ago, I recall following it with a question mark. Even now, as I approach the end of the fifth book and the beginning of the new series, I wonder if I made the right decision. I suppose, in time, it will be the fans who determine that. I must go with my instincts, and this is where they have taken me.

All those years back, I formed the skeleton of what would be, and soon set about creating the characters and plots that would become the flesh and organs of the creature it has become. Though my writing has slowed over the years, my passion to see things through to the end hasn’t waned. After all, these characters have been with me for as long as my daughter has been alive, and they hold nearly as dear of a place in my heart.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden