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


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



For those of you wondering, AfterLife (the fifth Only Human on the Block book) is still very much happening. I realized when I logged in that it has been a year to the date since I updated this blog. Too long. Longer than I thought. While I haven’t spent that time completely idle, I can’t say I’ve achieved as much as I should have. I won’t make excuses for it. Instead, I’m excited to say I’ve made some significant strides in the book, clearing a few plot hurdles I’d been struggling with. I’m pleased with the way recent chapters have come out, and I’m looking forward to tackling whatever else the characters throw at me.

I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure this comes out in 2018.

Also, if I’m permitted to get a little cocky, I feel reasonably comfortable saying I believe I can (finally!) release The Shadow Without (the third Unseen Things book) this year.

My apologies and appreciation goes out to my fans. Watch this space for news, and, as always, thanks for reading!


S.L. Madden



Not Fade Away

Reading back to my last blog entry, I was quite gung ho to finish my NaNo book. That was, of course, in November. Somehow, I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, it February.

Now I could blame the bad weather (tons of snow this year in my neck of the woods), unfavorable election results (with no good choices on the ballot, it was easy to be disappointed in the victor), my cats attempt to block me from using the computer, situational depression, or any of the other (valid or not) excuses I’ve come up with, but the plain simple truth is I just haven’t been writing. The breather I gave myself has now lasted two years, with very little accomplished in the interim.

This really slammed home this morning. Determined to get back on track, I sat down and finished the chapter in AfterLife I’ve been stuck on for some time. Doing so, I passed the 50K word count and I threw a mini celebration (read: I said, “Woo hoo!” to myself). I logged on, excited to finally have some forward momentum to blog about. Scrolling through my old blogs, I found one from February 2015 saying I had just crossed the 30K word threshold. I had to read it a few times to make sure I had it right. Have I really only written 20K words or so in the past two years in this book? At this rate, I’ll be retired before it’s done. Then I won’t have any excuse not to finish it.

I know I’ve done this song and dance before. The majority of my blog posts these day (infrequent as they are) are me apologizing for taking so long, while promising to do better. So I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to do my best to be better, both in keeping up with this blog and in writing. No one is more excited than I am to finish this book and have the complete series available for the first time.

Thanks for reading (and for your patience),


S.L. Madden

An Auspicious Start: NaNo 2016

I approach every NaNo season with a mix of excitement and apprehension. This year, those feelings are even more so. My last book, The Blood Contract, was released November of 2014. In the two years since, I’ve written a total of three chapters, if that. I have no great excuse for my absence from writing. I believe in part I’ve been in a quasi state of mourning, lamenting the loss of my daughter who was moved across the state after my divorce 3 years ago. I dealt with the situation the best I could on my own and, failing that, I turned to drugs. No, not the good kind that may have actually helped, but rather the prescription sort my counselor and I thought might get me through. Whatever good they did me, they also served to wholly seal off my creative thoughts. I spent many months unable to write a paragraph or a verse. Not to make it sound overly melodramatic, but losing my creative mind felt like losing a good portion of myself. I decided I would rather deal with the panic attacks and mental fatigue than lose myself again.

It took months and no small amount of effort but I managed to regain who I was. It came about first in songs, as a lyric would pop into my head, accompanied by a melody. Before long, I had recorded my first song in months and had many more verses and tunes at the ready. Working on my books took a little longer. A song is nice because on a good night, I can spend a few hours and have something tangible I can listen to. It may simply be a draft, but it’s something I can enjoy. Books are longer, more time-consuming and in some ways, have less of a reward. I reread my stories because I’m editing or rewriting them. Not, generally, because I intend to enjoy them over and over, unlike my songs.

But the music served as inspired lubrication for my mind and soon, I found myself mentally prepared to write. Any quiet moment (and some not so quiet), plots and characters and dialogue and scenes churned away in the back of my mind, puzzling out dilemmas, interacting in ways I hadn’t before considered. It was the way my brain typically worked, the way it had always functioned for as long as I can remember. It felt like home again.

Though my mind was willing, time was not so giving. During the sabbatical I had taken for my mental well-being, I had shifted jobs. Though this came with some advantages and seemed to me to be the next logical step forward, it was also burdened with one huge caveat: no more lunch time. Ergo, no more time to write at work.

I tried to write at home but found myself too easily distracted. It’s hard to focus on plots when a cat is crawling all over me and when my guitar is sitting there, just begging to be played. I considered writing at work after I was done for the night, but often my days were 10-12 hours long, and I found I just didn’t have the desire after staring at a computer screen all day.

I say all this because it is the past. I am determined now to get my life back in hand. There are so many ways I’ve let it slip away from me, but writing is something I can not and will not sacrifice. I wrote long before I ever decided to publish, and if I was forbidden from publishing ever again, I would continue to write. It is the steam I vent to keep the pressure within me from building, the spark of sanity that sends the dark creatures within me scurrying.

With that in mind, I decided NaNo 2016 would serve as my rebirth.

For those of you not familiar with the idea, NaNoWriMo is a sort of self-imposed contest writers take in an attempt to finish 50,000 words during the month of November. It has to be a new book, one that hasn’t been worked on previously, though the author is allowed to sketch out plotlines and characters ahead of time. I’ve participated since 2010 and have only passed it once. In 2012, with World of Shadows, the third book in the Unseen Things series. Then, it was known as a trilogy and when I published the second book, The Shadow Within, I was sure the third was soon to follow. In the four years since, I have rewritten several chapters of the book and split it into two.

For the past two years, I’ve had all but the last few chapters written in World of Shadows. I apologize to those who have been waiting for it. I decided to focus on AfterLife, the fifth Only Human on the Block book after the release of The Blood Contract, because I was on a roll and the ideas were coming hot and heavy. But then the mental funk hit and… well, I’ve already explained that in detail. Suffice it to say, the last two years have not been among my best.

I wrestled with the thought of which book to work on for NaNo this year. I even made a list of potential titles, listing the pros and cons of each. In the end, the answer seemed obvious. The book to bring me back into writing, back to NaNo, should be the follow-up to the one I went out on. Even though I haven’t yet finished the last few chapters of World of Shadows, I know and have known exactly how it will end. And the fourth book comes with a substantial time jump and a POV shift (each of the books in the series have been from a different POV), which was the reason I wanted to split the third book into two in the first place. So I came to find myself typing the words TWIN SHADOWS BY S.L. MADDEN to begin my foray into NaNodom.

Or rather, I would have, except my computer booted up with a blue screen of death. I fired up the laptop while I ran a restore on my desktop. Ultimately, it worked and my PC was usable (meanwhile, the laptop was still loading Windows…sigh), but by then, I was out of time and had to get ready for work. Not the best first day of NaNo.

Between home and work, however, I came to a decision I had been mulling over for awhile. I decided to take a lunch break.

I’d considered it before but told myself I’m already working long enough hours. Why prolong them? Yet giving myself an hour to write not only helped me accomplish my daily word count (well, close enough), it helped give my brain a little breather. It’s too early to tell if it’ll help long-term, but short-term, I’m willing to give it a try. As a result, I have 1482 words written. And I feel great.

I’m going to finish NaNo this year. I’m going to finish World of Shadows and finally publish it alongside Twin Shadows. And I’m going to complete AfterLife (I haven’t forgotten that book, I promise!). I suppose it could be argued the 1200 or so words I typed here would have been better spent working on the book, but I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to blog. I’ve been out of touch in more ways than one, so I wanted to reach out once more before I immerse myself back into writing.

As always, thanks for reading (and for your patience),


S.L. Madden

Give It Away Now

It’s my birthday tomorrow (the 20th) and I’ve decided to celebrate by getting my Oprah on. In other words, you get a book! You get a book! You get a book!

What kind of madness is this, do you ask? Could it be a sign I’m losing my mind? Possibly. Whatever the cause, The Four-Year-Old Guardian, Bravado/Dramatique, Together Alone, The Shadow Walker, The Shadow Within, and Ascension will all be free this weekend only, 8/20-8/21. Sadly, The Blood Contract won’t be part of this giveaway (but I have it on good authority it’s well worth the asking price of $2.99).

But Steve, you might be saying, you’ve put years and countless hours into these books. Do you really want to just give them all away for nothing? To which I say…well, when you put it like that….

In all honestly, when I started publishing, I never saw this as a get rich quick scheme. More like a means to support my affection for gas station burritos. I’m just honored to be able to share my books with the world. And if you insist on paying for the book with a  review (favorable or otherwise), it certainly won’t break my heart.

This also marks the end of me using Amazon exclusively for my books, so this will be the last time I’m able to do a giveaway such as this (and the reason why The Blood Contract is excluded. I didn’t realize I’d never enrolled it in Select). In the next few weeks, my books should be rolling out to other markets. So get ’em while they’re hot (and free)!

As always, thanks for reading!

S.L. Madden



Mindbenders 2

I had received a copy of the first Mindbenders through a contest, and what a prize it was! I goofed around a bit with remote viewing in my youth so this action series with a bit of sci-fi that could very well be real world twist was right up my alley. I enjoyed it so much I went on to read numerous other books from the same author.

The sequel picks up pretty much literally where the first ended, so I highly encourage you to read book one if you haven’t. Even if you have, I recommend reading it again to refresh your memory. Besides, it’s a hell of a read, so it’s win-win.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a free copy of this book by Mr. Krever in exchange for an honest review. It took me longer than expected and I enjoyed the book so much, I decided to purchase a copy for myself.
Bottom line, if you enjoyed the first book, I’d bet money you’ll like the second. And if you haven’t read the first book, stop reading this review and pick up a copy.
S.L. Madden

Five Years Ago

My Facebook memories page reminded me that five years ago today, I published The Four-Year-Old Guardian. It, along with Ascension, marked my foray into the world of self-publishing. It was a huge step forward for me, what I felt was the next logical step after being in writing groups since high school and putting my works out there on sites such as Authonomy.

For those of you who follow this blog, it’s no secret I haven’t been quite as prolific of late. My last book, The Blood Contract, came out at the end of 2014. I wrote a little last year but it was nowhere near my usual output. This was due to a combination of personal issues, misguided attempts to medicate and a shift in my schedule. I spent last year losing myself as a writer and I’ve spent 2016 so far trying to rediscover myself.

I can’t say I’ve been resoundingly successful but I do feel like I’ve rekindled (no pun intended) the writer’s spark within me. Though I’m far from ready to release my next book, I have been making progress. By my estimates, I’m currently a third of the way through AfterLife, the fifth and final book in the Only Human on the Block series (though I should point out here it is also a gateway book to a connected trilogy. I mention it because when I brought that up to my mother the other day, she seemed surprised by that fact). I haven’t been writing as much as I had in the past, but when I do sit down and focus, I’m rather proud of what I’m producing.

On the other hand, I’m in limbo on The Shadow Without or World of Shadows or whatever I end up calling it. I’ve been a few chapters away from finishing the rough draft for… well, when I first wrote it, I was inspired by the Obama/Romney campaign. So closing on four years. Damn.

I must admit, it’s gone through a lot of tweaks in that time. I changed it from third-person originally to first (don’t ask what I was thinking initially). I also took what was going to be one big book and separated it into two smaller books. As a result, my original ending doesn’t quite work, fails to have the impact I want it to have. I’m not sure why I’ve been struggling so much to end that third book. I have a pretty firm idea of how I want it to end. I just… haven’t.

That’ll change this year though. I’m determined to release whatever this book will be called in 2016, and if not AfterLife, I’ll get a good chunk of it done for a 2017 release. I owe it to my fans and, frankly, to myself. Five years ago I took my first steps in this journey. I may have wandered off the path for awhile, but it’s time I get back to it.

Still, even despite my prolonged absence, I’ve managed in the space of five years to produce The Four-Year-Old Guardian, Bravaado/Dramatique, Together Alone, The Blood Contract, The Shadow Walker, The Shadow Within, and Ascension. Seven books I’m rather proud of, in addition to a smattering of other stories I’ve started. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can put out in the next five years.

As always, thanks for reading (and for the support),

S.L. Madden

PS. In celebration of this five-year landmark, I’ll have the ebook of The Four-Year-Old Guardian available through Amazon for free starting tomorrow, 7/30 through Monday, 8/1.