Stolen Kisses

I know, I ignored my blog for a few months and now I’m blowing it the eff up!

This is another link to a song called Stolen Kisses I posted on Sound Cloud about a month ago. Ever since my divorce in 2013, I’ve been struggling with the fact my daughter now lives across the state. Given her limited vocabulary due to her autism and the distance, I rarely get to see or speak with her. In hopes to deal with my sadness/guilt/what-have-you, I decided to channel my energies into writing songs after Skyping with her. This particular song came gushing out. From the moment I played the first chord on the guitar, wrote and sang the vocals, added the keyboard and the solo, to the rough song you hear here, it took me a little over an hour. I sent what I had to my band mate, Dave, and he added the bass. The song is far from complete but given everything, I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

Thanks for listening,

S.L. Madden

Stolen Kisses

Images upon a screen

Can’t replace what you mean to me

Even video is not the same no, no

Your excitement makes it clear

You love me though I can’t be there

I can read between your lines oh, oh

Those kisses should be mine

Drives me out of my mind

I sacrificed it all and more

In an effort to ensure

You could have a good life

To hear your voice and your laugh

Should be enough but I can’t get past

The memories of what came before

Those kisses should be mine

Drives me out of my mind

And I keep telling myself

Someday this will end

But it drags me down, down, down

Seeing the love meant for me

Go to my enemy

Drags me down, down, down

Space may divide us

But the love inside of us

Can never be undone

Those kisses should be mine

Drives me out of my mind

I hope you’re happy

Like you seem to be

I hope you’re happy

Like you deserve to be

I’ll wait and bide my time

Those kisses should be mine

I’ll wait and bide my time

Those kisses should be mine

Insomniac’s Fight

I’m going to try something a little different here (for me anyway) and link one of the songs I was working on. I just uploaded it to Sound Cloud, so I figured I’d take a shot at sharing it to see how it all works.

This was the first run through of a song I wrote about my wife’s difficulty sleeping. I like to call these songs my rough drafts. I know it’s far from perfect (I’m not a professional anyway, so it’ll never be perfect) but it laid down the groundwork for I want the song to become. But where I don’t typically read the rough draft of a book I’m working on over and over, I do tend to listen to my songs. After awhile, I get used to the way it sounds, imperfections and all. That’s not to say I’ll never try to redo the recording and make it better. But for now I’m happy with the results of spending a couple of hours one night making a song.

Anyway, should you choose to check it out, I welcome any and all comments and criticisms. I know I’m not a great singer… or guitar player… or songwriter… or… well, you can judge it for yourself if you want.

Thanks for listening!

Steve

Madlands

Insomniac’s Fight

Go to sleep
Close your eyes
Drift Away
Turn off your mind

Can’t shut it off
It’s a long fight
Toss and turn
Night after night

Pace in the dark
Like it was day
Seeking rest
An elusive prey

Eat a snack
Thinking it’ll help
Lay down again
Tired as hell

And it goes
On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on without end
The day becomes the night becomes the day becomes blurred together again
And the fog invades your mind
Seeps into every nook and cranny it can find
Eventually you’ll just give in
Surrender knowing that tomorrow

The fight begins anew
The fight begins anew
The fight begins anew

Random thoughts
Feel right at home
Waking nightmares
You can’t run from

When the dawn breaks
And you finally give in
The alarm rings
Time to do it again

Ramble On

As my time here in the Land of Port draws to a close, I’d like to thank everyone who made this journey an experience:

~To the pedestrians who value saving a couple of seconds over their own lives….

~To the hotel staff who made sure we never had to wait for our elevator door to open (okay, maybe once or twice)….

~To Burgerville, for being so close and yummy….

~To the men on the sidewalk who did their best to convince us we no longer needed our money now that we’d eaten breakfast….

~To Gravy for being pretty freaking delicious….

~To Nine Inch Nails, for reaffirming art and angst are mutually exclusive (also, being a bit older shouldn’t keep us from rocking out)….

~To the girl in front of us who stood up right as Jenn’s favorite song came on, blocking her view…. Actually, no thanks to you. That kind of sucked.

~And to her long-haired boyfriend who constantly threw back his head and let loose a guttural yell throughout the concert, because we obviously didn’t come to hear Trent Reznor….

~To the pretzel that almost killed me that cost us a T-shirt (and brought back memories of Mexican soup)….

~To the elderly woman at the concert who moved with far more abandon then I’d ever let myself give into….

~To the toilet that made a high-pierced noise, making us scared to flush at night….

~To Stash tea, for nom nom nom….

~To HBO, for putting on a Chris Hardwick stand-up special at just the right time to make us laugh before bed….

~And to the hotel wifi, which I can only describe as the shittiest connection I’ve had since dial-up….

To all of you and more, I thank you for welcoming me into your fine city. I may not fully grasp your one-way streets and recycling, but I want to.

I want to.

Hopefully we’ll see each other next time Muse is in town.

S.L. Madden

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Aftermath

Now that NaNoWriMo is over (did I mention that as a winner, winner, I was the recipient of the coveted “chicken dinner” award?  Mmmm!), I’ve been decompressing a bit.  Taking it easy.  Okay, I haven’t been taking it that easy.  After all, I’m still juggling several books I’d like unleash upon the world in 2013.

So, what have I been up to, other than not updating my blog?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

Working on Together Alone

As of this writing, I am 57% done with the rough draft for Together Alone, the third book in the Only Human on the Block series.  I stopped work on it mid-October in preparation of NaNo, but I’m back into the swing of things.  Fortunately, the book was already finished four years ago (has it really been that long?), so hammering out the rough draft should go pretty quick.  I’m a little concerned/surprised because the 57% mark is roughly 54K words in, meaning this is going to be the biggest book in the series by far (if I remember correctly, The Four-Year-Old Guardian was approximately 63K words and Bravado/Dramatique was 80K+).  I suppose it stands to reason, as book four, The Blood Contract, was on track to surpass Together Alone when I stopped working on it a few years back.  My hope is to finish the rough draft of Together Alone by the end of December so I can refocus on finishing The Shadow Within shortly thereafter.

Playing The Game

I don’t think I’ve made it much of a secret I’m an avid game player (special shout-out to my PS3…love you!), but my hectic writing schedule has kept me from my beloved hobby for a time.  Well, no longer.  Instead of writing in the morning, I’ve been taking the opportunity to catch up on some games I’ve been meaning to get back to.  More specifically, I’ve been playing [PROTOTYPE].  I’ve had this game for quite some time, but it got put aside as I waded through my backlog.  I picked it up again because the feel of it reminded me a bit of where I’m headed in World of Shadows (or, perhaps, book four if I decide to split it into two books).  I often find myself gravitating toward a game that lets me play as a character similar to one in my books, as it scratches my two favorite itches: I get to play while thinking over where my stories are headed.  In some cases, it helps me develop my characters even more, as I filter what they would do through the situations the game presents.  While [PROTOTYPE] is hardly a spot-on template for where the series is headed (it’s a pretty extreme, disgusting game, TBH), there definitely elements of it that remind me of one my character’s story arcs.  And that’s about as much of a spoiler as I’ll give you for book three. 🙂

Getting Epic

I’m a huge fan of music (I know my Music That Inspires Me is pretty anemic right now, but that’s only because it takes me a while to provide reviews) and often use it to paint the landscapes in my mind for where my books take place.  The right song can instantly get my creative juices flowing, helping me to live and breathe a moment before I get the opportunity to put it into words.  While I love a diverse variety of genres, I’ve recently discovered one that suits me perfectly: trailer music.

No, no, not that kind of trailer.  Trailer, as in the advertisement for a movie.  If you ever close your eyes and focus on that epic score in the background, that’s the music I’m talking about.  There are a good variety of artists who have recently made their music public, but one of the premier groups is Two Steps From Hell.  I had the opportunity to download one of their albums (which also came with the arduous task of picking only one to start off with) and I chose Archangel.  I couldn’t be happier with the selection.  Each song instantly brings me to a different place in my books, making me mentally write even when I’m not in a position to do so.  Lately, I’ve used the music to start putting some polish on Afterlife (title tentative), the fifth and final book in the Only Human on the Block series.  There are some big moments in that book, as one would expect in a series finisher, and this album encapsulates the emotions I feel toward those scenes perfectly.  Having felt through the book in this way will make it go all the quicker when it comes time to finally write it (next year, I hope).

Playing The Game II

Okay, so this one I haven’t been doing yet, but I plan to.  I recently picked up Rocksmith for my PS3 and I intend to spend some of my free time on it.  It’s similar in design to other guitar games, except this one actually lets you use a real guitar.  What a concept, I know.  It comes with a special cable to plug your guitar into your console and it’s supposed to be a good learning tool.  Little known fact: I played in a band in my college days.  It was something we did for fun, with no intention of trying to make it big (at least, that’s how I felt.  I suppose I shouldn’t speak for the other members).  I generally played the drums, but if we were playing one of my songs, I played the guitar.  So while it’s no like I’ve never picked the instrument up and strummed a few chords, I’ve also never received any kind of training.  It’s been years since I played, and I thought this would be a good way to get back into it.  What does this have to do with writing?  Um…maybe if I get good enough, I can compose my own music for my book trailers?  Okay, maybe nothing, but if it helps me vent some steam and readjust my mind to get back to the words in my head, I’m all for it.

So, that’s a small sample of what I’ve been up to the last eight days in lieu of throwing myself at NaNo.  Since I started mid-October with The Shadow Within and segued directly into World of Shadows, it seems like it was an exceptionally long NaNo season for me.  Still, I think I’m on the right path, balancing my work with my play time.  And most importantly, I’m excited about what I’m working on.  I really do think I can finish the rough draft of Together Alone by the end of the year, which leaves the first quarter of 2013 to work on rewrites and edits.  2012 wasn’t a high production year for me, with only Bravado/Dramatique being published, but it was a learning year for me.  I got all four of my books in print and streamlined the process a bit for myself.  I also met some amazing people and put a lot of effort into improving this blog.

If all goes well, 2013 will be a banner year, with at least three books being published (four if I can whip out The Blood Contract…I’d better start looking for the notebook I wrote it in).  And hopefully, after I get the Unseen Things series (see, I didn’t call it a trilogy) out of the way, I can start working on an all-new series, because there are several characters who have been waiting to meet you for a very long time.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Civil Twilight – Holy Weather

Product Details

This is my second recommendation of music that inspires me.  I’ve only recently started listening to Civil Twilight, after my wife heard Letters From The Sky at the end of a movie.  She checked out a few songs on YouTube and liked what she heard, so she recommended it to me.  After listening to a few songs, I knew right away this band was a good fit for my tastes (which is odd, because it usually takes several listens before a new disc calls to me, never mind a whole new band).  I put it off for a few weeks, then took the plunge, downloading their self-titled first album, Civil Twilight and their newer disc, Holy Weather, at the same time.  As a result, I often mix up which song came from which disc, as they both went onto my MP3 player in their entirety and have been mixing it up with my other favorite tunage.

Both albums are fantastic, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to focus on Holy Weather.  This is due in part to a time-sensitive sale: Amazon currently has it for $3.99 for their Black Friday sale.  I’m not sure when it’ll go back up to the $7.99 I paid, but this is a fantastic deal.  If you’ve never heard of the band, I recommend watching some of their videos.  They remind me in some ways of Coldplay, Keane or even Muse (many people say they sound like U2, but I don’t personally hear it).  Either way, they definitely have their own sound.

Every song is good, but stand-out tracks (for me) are: Fire Escape, River, Holy Weather, Highway Of Fallen Kings, Doorway and Shape Of A Sound.  The music sounds great coming out of my car speakers, but it really comes to life when wearing headphones.  I’m still discovering the various layers of sounds in each song.

S.L. Madden

Muse – The 2nd Law

To start off my “Music That Inspires Me” section, I have to open with the new album from Muse.  This band has been one of my absolute favorites since I first heard Supermassive Black Hole
on the local alternative station.  I immediately devoured as much of their music as I could get my hands on and I loved every bit of it.  When their last album, The Resistance, first came out, I was a little skeptical, but the newer sound soon won me over.  Now, with the release of The 2nd Law, their shift toward more 80’s sounds–complete with influences ranging from Queen and Bowie to George Michael–is complete, but it’s all performed with that trademark Muse sound.

The 2nd Law

Supremacy 4:55 – A lot of people have said this should have been the theme for the new Bond movie, and without hearing Adele’s version, I agree it could have been a contender.  I believe it’s already been used in a trailer (unless that was fan made, in which case, kudos to the person who put it together).  It almost sounds like Led Zeppelin was asked to write a Bond theme, then handed it over to Muse to put their own unique spin on it.  Either way, it’s a great way to open the album.  The opening riff is powerful and the vocals stirring (complete with Matt whipping out the titular line in his gorgeous falsetto and smacking us in the eardrums). 4.5/5

Madness 4:39 – The first single from the new album and the only song I’ve heard on the radio (aside from the aforementioned Supermassive Black Hole).  My first reaction was…waaah?  Muse does George Michael?  My second reaction was…hmm…ummmm…..  The next time I heard it was while watching the video with the volume up and it was then that it clicked.  Yes, it sounds like a bit of a throwback to George Michael and the 80’s (with a somewhat minimalistic guitar solo that reminds me of Brian May’s work), but it’s done in such a way that embraces technology available at that time.  I personally love the backing “M-m-m-m-m-mad” vocals, but what really sold me is the power it achieves as it builds up and releases.  It’s become a favorite of mine to sing. 4/5

Panic Station [Explicit] 3:04 – What the funk is this?  I don’t know, but I like it.  It’s like David Bowie and the Red Hot Chili Peppers got their freak on and this song was the result.  It’s a little cheesy, yes, but it’s that particular brand of cheese Muse does so well.  It’s also notable for the F-bomb Matt drops.  I’ve seen several people point out it’s their first, but I believe that honor belongs to the B-side Crying Shame.  While it makes this track NSFW, it’s still a fun, catchy tune that’s funkin’ fantastic! 4/5

Prelude/Survival :57/4:17 – Prelude is just that: an orchestral bit before the main song.  I personally wish the two were coupled together as one file, but I realize not everyone shares my view.  Survival was the first song released to the public before the album’s release, as it was touted as the official song of the Olympics.  Matt embraces his obvious love of Queen and the group steps up and gives us this generation’s We Are The Champions.  It’s over the top and epic and I’ve nearly worn out my air guitar rocking out to it.  4/5

Follow Me 3:50 – Some people dislike the so-called “dubstep” influence in this song, but I think it actually enhances it.  It’s a sweet little song, but the heavy electronic beat that kicks in gives in that extra little kick that makes it stand apart.  3.5/5

Animals 4:22 – This song sounds like a throwback to older Muse to me.  I like the clean, non-distorted guitar line pervading through the song (not that I don’t like some distortion in my songs, but I appreciated the contrast).  The lyrics for this one kill me.  I love the breakdown at the end (the music, not necessarily the Wall Street trading samples) and wish it lasted a little longer, but I appreciate its added presence.  I bet this one is going to rock live.  4/5

Explorers 5:46 – As far as I can tell, this is a sort of lullaby to Matt’s child.  I think it sums up who Muse is pretty well, in that it’s a desperate look at where humanity is headed that gives way to optimism for the future.  As a parent myself, I felt it embodied my fear of bringing a child into this world with all its evils and horrors, as well as my hope for things to come and the opportunities my child would have.  I also give major props to them for throwing “Fuse helium-3” into the lyrics.  Only Muse could get away with something like this and make it work.  All in all, I think it’s a beautiful song.  3.5/5

Big Freeze 4:39 – The first few times I heard it, this was my least favorite song on the album.  It might sound bad, but it’s a little too happy for my tastes.  But what I found (and this is often the case with me) is after I was done listening to it, the chorus stuck in my head.  Now, I enjoy it well enough, though it’s still not my favorite on the album.  However, I have to point out I just listened to this song at work on my lunch and it was difficult to resist singing along.   3/5

Save Me 5:08 – This one and the next is unique because they were written by Chris, the bassist and features him on vocals instead of Matt.  I believe this is a first for Muse and has proven to be a bit divisive among fans.  I personally don’t mind the fact he’s singing, and given how personal the songs are (detailing his struggles with alcohol), I think it’s appropriate he provided the vocals.  That being said, the song has a haunted, ethereal quality I enjoy.  3/5

Liquid State 3:02 – Chris’ second contribution, this song is almost the polar opposite of Save Me.  The beat here is driving and pounding and the song as a whole reminds me of old Muse more than the new.  I do wish it were a little longer and for some reason, the overall tonal quality sounds a bit muddy to me, but its a good bit of rock.  3.5/5

The 2nd Law: Unsustainable 3:48 – The original promo for the album featured this song and I hoped it would be on the album.  It scared a lot of fans, prompting them to think the entire album would be dubstep (it’s not), but I absolutely loved it.  I have a soft spot in my heart for orchestration mixed with rock beats and this song does it well.  It’s primarily an instrumental, as the only vocals are a woman news reporter intoning about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (see what they did there) and equating it the unsustainability of an economy based on endless growth.  It’s pretty heavy stuff, turned even more epically awesome as a robot voice takes over to say, “Unsustainable.” (As my wife put it, “No wonder you like the song.  It sounds like a Transformer.”).  Cue the so-called dubstep, which is created with live instruments, and you have a song I just can’t get enough of.  4.5/5

The 2nd Law: Isolated System 5:00 – The final track is another instrumental and seems to be the antithesis of the previous song.  Where Unsustainable was driving and powerful, this song is subdued, haunting.  It sounds like a piece that could easily be part of a movie soundtrack and I must confess to seeing the visual of the accompanying video every time I listen to it.  Some have said it seems an odd end to the album, but to me, it’s perfect and seems to embody the notion of decreasing energy.  Whether this was their intention or not, it’s a suitable climax to the album and a very listenable track on its own.  Great to write to. 4/5

As a whole, I would give this album a 4/5.  It’s not my favorite Muse album (I believe that would be Black Holes And Revelations, my first Muse experience), but I think it’s a step in the right direction.  If this is your first experience with Muse, go into knowing this album isn’t indicative of their past catalogue.  Instead, it embodies the summation of their music as a whole, unifying their old and new sound.  Also, I highly recommend listening with headphones on.  There’s a whole world of sonic soundscapes contained in each song you may miss otherwise.

Enjoy.

S.L. Madden