As of this morning, I’m 83% done with the final draft for Bravado/Dramatique, the follow-up to The Four-Year-Old Guardian (FYOG).  While it’s on my mind, I’d like to discuss a few reasons I’m excited for its upcoming release.  In order to do this, I have to warn of spoilers ahead for FYOG.  Of course, if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?  Go pick it up.  We’ll be here waiting.


***Proceed at your own risk!***


There, that should do it.

1) The world.

The main reason I’m excited about this book is it’s a return of sorts for me.  I started working on the Only Human on the Block series in 2008 and whipped through the first three books (and most of the fourth) in short order.  I typed up FYOG and ran it through group, but never got around to the second book.  Instead, I got involved with, where I submitted Ascension and FYOG and used the other authors’ advice to improve my craft.

I stayed on Authonomy for quite a while before I realized what a time suck it was.  I made some great contacts and associations, but I was never there to play the game.  With few exceptions, people read my first few chapters and left a brief review that could have applied to most any story.  Only a select few read further (some even read the books in their entirety, quite a feat given they were limited to reading on the screen and received nothing for their effort, aside from reading what I hope they found to be a good story).

While Authonomy did little to improve my chances of publication (it was during this period I actually submitted to agents for the first and last time), it gave me something I lacked: confidence.  Some readers clearly read my work just so I would return the favor and help propel them up the charts, but others seemed to genuinely enjoy the books.

The waylay with Authonomy went on for so long, I found it difficult to return to Nick’s world and Averton.  My attempts to finish up book four were sporadic, not yielding very good writing.  I knew where I wanted the story to go, but it refused to go there willingly.  Instead, I focused my attention on other projects.  I began a rough draft of a new series (one that has yet to see the light of day) and I wrote The Shadow Walker and most of its sequel.

My mother mentioned the concept of self-publishing during a phone conversation and it ignited my passion for writing once more.  With Ascension and FYOG ready to go (for the most part), I published them first.  I immediately threw myself into marketing, promoting and working on producing The Shadow Walker.  After a glorious four-month push, I burned out a bit.  Instead of writing fresh material, I found myself going over rewrites and focusing on producing for the writing group.  As much as I wanted to work on a new book for NaNoWriMo (I did start one, a fantasy/horror), I knew I was better off focusing on my existing series.

As soon as I started typing up Bravado/Dramatique, it instantly rekindled my love of the series.  After so many rewrites of FYOG, I started to feel like that was the defining book.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed writing its follow-up (and, I should add, the third book, Together Alone, which I’m currently editing).  The world created in FYOG was fun, but limited, as I set it up primarily through Nick.  He’s the one guiding the reader, as we discover Averton and its inhabitants through his eyes.  I always considered adding more POVs to the book, to expand it a bit, but felt it would detract from the mystery.  What is Averton?  Who is the Guardian?  Who’s a monster and who isn’t?  As much as I wanted to hop into Myles’ head or Wendy’s, I felt like to do so would reveal too much too soon.

The sequels, however, don’t suffer that limitation.  In fact, I always thought of book one as being Nick’s story, book two as being Wendy’s, book three as being Myles’ and the last two books being wide open.  I’m not sure it turned out that way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick has less chapters than Wendy in book two.  It was refreshing to explore more perspectives and I think it served to make the setting less claustrophobic.

2) The Battles

I love the second book because it’s the first time we really get to see Nick as the Guardian.  He uses Severance at the end of book one, but he’s still a novice, unsure of himself.  Book two expands upon his training.  The few fight scenes in book one were fun for me because the small group had to be creative in order to win.  In book two, it’s more about Nick realizing the extent of his newfound power.

3) The Play

The play’s the thing, as they say, and it’s an important part of book two.  I never tried out for a play personally, but I went to the try-outs and attended every showing of one play in particular.  It always stuck with me, and inspired me to try my hand at writing a musical.  I never did anything with it, but the melodies and overall story stuck with me over the years.  When I realized I wanted the second book to incorporate a play, I knew I needed to adapt what I had worked on so many years ago.  It’s almost eerie how easy it was to make the storyline of the musical fit into the theme of the book and the series overall, considering the fifteen year gap between the two.  One day, I’ll have to try my hand at recording the songs…once I figure out how to play them.

4) The Magic

In FYOG, the reader gets to see magic at a distance.  It’s talked about and even seen during a video, but aside from a few energy balls, it’s not in use much.  Bravado/Dramatique opens the series up to magic much more, in a way that fundamentally changes the dynamic from here on out.  It becomes more important to the story here and into the third book and beyond.

5) The Return to Publishing

I put out The Shadow Walker at the end of October.  That’s nearly eight months ago.  The time between then and now is a blur and I have little to show for it.  True, I got Ascension into paperback, soon to be followed by FYOG and The Shadow Walker, but I haven’t put out anything new since then.  As I approach my year anniversary for self-publishing, I’m looking forward to ramping up the production side of things.  Bravado/Dramatique is leading the charge.

That’s it for now.  I still have a lot of work to do, but I remain confident in my June 30th deadline.  Watch this space for more information (I’m going to try to have a new post at least once a week from here on out).

Thanks for your time and support.

S.L. Madden


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