Old Friends, New Faces

I know Together Alone isn’t out quite yet, but I’m already hard at work on the follow-up, The Blood Contract.  There are a few new faces who are joining the ever-expanding cast of characters, but to me, they bring back memories.

Veogul was one of the first characters I created back in my youngin’ days, before I ever dreamed of publishing my books.  She was part of a fantasy storyline that never truly took off.  Her backstory was somewhere in the series, the main love interest (can’t recall her name at this point), became possessed by a demon.  Locked in a battle between her two distinct selves, she gradually learned to assimilate both sides into a singular persona.  Eventually, she became Veogul, a magically gifted assassin who dedicated her life to hunting down her demon cousins.

Although the story she comes from died long ago (I was in grade school when I first started working on it), I’ve kept the character alive throughout the years my making her my go-to good-guy-turned-bad-guy-turned-good-again.  Whenever I play a game as a rogue or hunter, I tend to role-play it as her.

Kinikaro was actually part of the same series (the name just came back to me–White Knights–along with the cheesy 80’s style theme song I wrote for it in high school).  He was actually a humanized version of the dark god Shankton (great name, right?), who travelled with the party until they learned of his past.  He dual-wielded magic swords, and was fairly proficient in the dark arts.

Whenever I make an evil warrior/mage in a game, I tend to use him as my basis.  In Skyrim, I made him into a dual-wielding Dark Elf.  In Sacred 2, he was the Inquisitor.

And there you have it.  I won’t tell you in what capacity I’ve incorporated them into the world of Only Human on the Block, but I can say they will be featured players.  And maybe, just maybe, their distant pasts might hold some clues as to their futures.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Let’s Do Launch

My long-time followers know I’m not only a father, an ex-husband, a wannabe author, and a generous and giving lover, I am also a gamer. I like to joke I was born with a controller in my hand, but the accompanying mental images are less cute and more horrifying (anyone who has witnessed a birth can attest to this).

The point being, I have played and loved games for as far back as I can remember. I recall begging my parents for a Nintendo Entertainment System, assuring them Super Mario Bros. was the only game I’d ever need (fortunately, they were far less short-sided than I, and also picked up Contra).

Most of my childhood memories consist of going to my friends’ houses and staying up all night conquering new worlds. Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus… All the classics, and tons I’m probably better off forgetting. I remember the first time I heard a game “talk” (“Blades of Steel!”, followed shortly after by “The Adventures of Bayou Billy”).

The Super Nintendo gave me some of my greatest moments of my youth. Even then, I used characters from stories I was working on, pretending they were in an alternate reality. Strange to think I still have some of those old stories bouncing around in my head.

The Nintendo 64 was next (noticing a trend?) and it was responsible for introducing me to how much better it could be to move in three dimensions. There were several good games for it, but the tides were changing. More competitors were throwing their hats in the ring, and it would fundamentally change what it meant to be a gamer.

Before the Playstation, gaming (at least in my neck of the woods) was kind of like playing D&D… It seemed like something everyone should be into, but it was a fast and furious way to be branded a nerd. Suddenly, everyone was talking about games, as the hobby became more and more mainstream.

I can’t really recall what led to me jumping ship from Nintendo to Sony, but once I did, I never looked back. If Nintendo was the champion of my youth, Playstation signified my adult life. Games were no longer just for kids. I’d grown up, and they had grown up along with me. I still loved Mario and the gang, but these new games were cinematic, epic. It was a new era for gaming, and I was gladly swept along.

I worked at Best Buy when the PS2 launched, but I told myself I wouldn’t succumb to the temptation. I lasted a week. Once the second shipment came in, I jumped at the chance to pick one up. Through all the years of love and abuse, it still works to this day, which is good because I kept all my old games (including my beloved copy of Champions of Norrath).

After a time, a new contender stepped up: the Xbox. The long-rumored machine from Microsoft came with a hard drive, a concept that would revolutionize consoles to follow. I was given an Xbox late into it’s life cycle, and while I recall bringing it and my 30″ tube TV over for Halo LAN parties, I never used it quite as much as my PS2.

I only bought my PS3 a few years ago, but it quickly became one of my favorite consoles ever. Even though I have less time than ever to enjoy it, my PS3 remains a go-to for when I want to relax. Once I subscribed to Playstation Plus, I had access to more games than I could possibly play.

So why inundate you with all of this? Well, today is the launch of the PS4, followed by the Xbox One next week. For console gamers, next gen is upon us. While the gaming forums have been more volatile than political discussions during an election, as gamers, we should be united in our excitement.

Though I’m inclined to get the PS4, I fully acknowledge what the Xbox One and the Wii U bring to the table. If this new generation offers as many memories and good times as consoles past, this is a good time to be a gamer.

Now I just need to save up the money to join the revolution.

Thanks for playing!

S.L. Madden

More Than Zero

I wrote about 600 words today. It’s not much, but it’s around 600 words more than I figured I’d get done this weekend.

I could have written some last night, as Nat went to bed on time, with Jenn following shortly thereafter, but I was bad. I’d been invited to participate in a beta test for Dark Souls II, and couldn’t resist.

In my defense, this test was only scheduled from 2300 to 0200, so it was a mere three hours for me to experience one of my most hotly anticipated upcoming titles some four months before launch. Still, why did it have to be in November?

Ah well, I had fun, though I didn’t quite make it the full three hours. It definitely put to rest any fears they might make it too easy for mass consumption. Either way, there’s a chance I may get an opportunity tonight to write, and if so, I will definitely jump on it.

S.L. Madden

Temptation

Here I sit on a Friday night, the eve of a weekend I know I shall have little to no time to write, and all I want to do is watch tv or maybe play a game. I’m sitting at just over 10K words now, less than I should be, and I know I could probably pump out another 2500-3000, easy, but I just don’t wanna. Why should I, when the newly downloaded Dragon’s Dogma awaits me? Or when the last few episodes of Young Justice are begging me to watch and erase them from my DVR (yes, I’m pretty far behind)?

But I won’t have a lunch tomorrow, and I have Natalie all day Sunday and Monday. That’s three days out if thirty I’m going to lose. Then I’ll be out of town for a few days in a couple of weeks… More time lost. I know I need to capitalize on these moments I have, it’s just… Difficult. I can do it, though. All I need is the willpower to succeed. I know from last year, crossing the finish line will feel amazing!

Of course, so would playing my PS3.

Sigh.

Game Over

Last weekend, I completed The Walking Dead on my PS3.  I had put off playing it for reasons I’m not sure.  Perhaps because I knew once it was done, it was over.  Even though the game allows you (read: forces you) to make tough decisions that alters the course you get to the end, the ending is set (to the best of my knowledge).  And oh, what an ending it was.  I sat there for a time, letting it soak in, excited for the future (Season 2 is coming out later this year), but reminiscing over everything I had just experienced.

Then it occurred to me: This game has made a fairly short list of games I’ve managed to beat in this generation.

So, me being me and feeling nostalgic now that the PS4 and the Xbox One (??) have been announced, I decided to make a list and relive my (admittedly lame) moments of glory.

God of War III

I believe this was the first game I beat on the PS3.  I played through the first and second game on the PS2 and borrowed this one from a co-worker.  It lived up to the lofty expectations set by the first two, even if the ending sequence left a bit to be desired.

BioShock I and II

The original Bioshock was an Xbox exclusive for a time, and it was one that seriously made me want to pick up Microsoft’s machine.  Fortunately for me, before I got around to getting one, it was released on the PS3.  It was one of the first demos I downloaded and I was instantly in love.  The strong narrative, creepy atmosphere and excellent selection of powers (love me some plasmids) made me an instant fan.

I played the original so late, the sequel was already out and at a good price, so I immediately picked it up.  It gets a lot of flak for being a cash-grab, seeing as it wasn’t made by the same development team and it took place in Rapture, reusing some resources from the original game.  It may not have had as strong of a story, but I think the developers treated it with a lot of love.  They kept what worked and improved upon some things (dual wielding weapons and plasmids, a much better hacking system).  The Minerva’s Den DLC is especially strong.  I may have enjoyed that more than the second game in its entirety.  Spear gun FTW!

BioShock Infinite

I rarely buy a game new, but given this was made by the developer of the original Bioshock, I took the plunge and never looked back.  While the gameplay failed to live up the ridiculously high benchmark set by the videos released early in development, it was still an amazing game.  When I reached the end, I actually got all teary-eyed (which, I admit, isn’t all that rare for me) and I immediately wanted to replay it to see how all the pieces fit in from the beginning.  Being as this is a new game, there is still DLC being made for it, so the adventure is far from over.

Tomb Raider Underworld

I’ve never been a huge Tomb Raider fan.  I tried to play the first game back on the PS1 and couldn’t understand how to control the character, or really what the big deal was.  Norma, however, has played nearly every game in the series, and so I decided to pick this up.

Honestly, if it were just me, I’m not sure I would have finished it.  The storyline was all right, but I spent more time yelling at the character (and calling her various names that would probably get me labeled as a chauvinist) than I did enjoying the game.  Ultimately, I finished it because we played it “together”, with her there telling me what to do every time I screwed up old school style.

Heavy Rain

This game became a bit of a compulsion for me, as I had to see it through to the end.  Playing it a bit at a time is a little like watching a movie in 15-minute chunks.  Despite some odd controls and some stiff dialogue, this game managed to elevate the standard of story-telling in the medium.  I did fairly well (or so I thought), until the very end, when most of my characters met their untimely deaths.  I’ve only run through it once, but I’ve been tempted to restart my investigation into the Origami Killer.  And maybe this time, I’ll manage to keep everyone alive.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Another game that once I started playing, I was completely devoted to it until I finished.  I had played the old Metal Gear games back in the day, plus MGS 1 and 2 (never got around to 3, which was unfortunate, because I was extra lost with some of the storyline).  This game is amazing.  Sure, you watch it more than play it in some parts and the plot is so convoluted there could be college courses dedicated to studying it, but it was an absolute blast.  If you’re a fan of the Metal Gear saga and you haven’t played this (whaaa?), you owe it to yourself to pick it up.  If you haven’t played at least Metal Gear Solid 1-3…do yourself a favor and get the The Legacy Collection coming out so you can get caught up.

And now that it’s been patched with trophies, I think I might need to run through it again.  *cracks knuckles*

Demon’s Souls

Given it’s highly touted difficulty, I’m rather surprised this one made my list.  I loved this game so much, I kept at it until the credits rolled.  And then…I took a break.  Still wish I’d kept playing New Game+ and so on and so on.  Since then, its spiritual successor, Dark Souls, has come out.  I find myself torn between the two games as to which I like better.  Dark Souls is bigger and more open, but Demon’s Souls has a special place in my heart.

Of course, one of these days, I have to beat Dark Souls so I can add it to this list.

PROTOTYPE

This game has a bad rep, for reasons I can’t understand.  I know it came out around the same time as inFAMOUS and both games feature open worlds and a main character with superpowers, but they could scarcely be more different from one another.  PROTOTYPE wears its M-rating proudly on its gore-drenched sleeves, and while sometimes it comes across as a bit crass or childish in its violence, it also gives the player the feeling of being all-powerful.  And isn’t that, in part, what gaming is about?

And….I believe that’s it.  A rather pathetic list, isn’t it?  Of course, this is hardly indicative of the number of games I’ve played.  Some, I’ve come close to the end, only to give up because of time constraints (and I never got back into them).  Others, I just wasn’t feeling (I’m looking at you, Deus Ex Human Revolution, but daddy hasn’t given up on you yet).  I’m not likely to grab a PS4 right away (read: I’m poor), so I still have some time to finish up the gems I have waiting for me from this generation.

I’m looking forward to adding to this list as time goes on.

S.L. Madden

The Maddening 12/22

I’d like to open this post by saying I’ve come to a realization these past few weeks: I get a lot more views when I actually update my blog.  It’s shocking news, I know, and if I had more time, I would dedicate some resources toward researching it further.  As it is, I feel pretty comfortable stating the more often I post, the more views I get.

Huh.

I’m hoping to start a tradition of updating my status on a weekly basis.  That way, it forces me to blog at least once a week, even when I’m buried in rough drafts and edits.  I think January is going to be a busy month, and I don’t want my blogging to get lost in the shuffle.

So, here’s what I’ve been up to the last week.  I present…The Maddening!

Books:

Only Human on the Block – At the time of this writing, I am 73% done with the rough draft for Together Alone.  It’s been going a little slower than planned, mostly because I’ve only been working on it during my lunch break.  I think I might take it home with me and try to get some work done this week.  I’d like to get the rough draft finished by the end of the month, which I don’t think is an unreasonable goal.  I’m estimating the finished book will be about 85K words.

Right now, The Four-Year-Old Guardian is available on Smashwords for $.99 by using the coupon code 5F69B and Bravado/Dramatique is also $.99 by using coupon code UL73V.

Unseen Things – We’re currently 67% through reading the rough draft for the second book, The Shadow Within, in group.  I think it’s going pretty well, but I also know there are some rough parts coming up, some chapters I’ll definitely need to put some polish on.  That being said, the second book came together much better than the third, whose identity is still very much up in the air.  I think I’ve come to the decision to split book three into two parts, but I haven’t decided if I want to make them completely different books or label them World of Shadows I and World of Shadows II.  I am pretty sure I don’t want to put it out as one big 120K book.  At least not digitally.  The more eBooks I read, the more I appreciate a shorter book.  And the fact the first two books aren’t terribly long would make the third seem like a bit much.

The Shadow Walker is $.99 at Smashwords right now, courtesy of coupon code  RV56Y.

Ascension – I have ideas for a few sequels, but I haven’t done any work on them and probably won’t until I’ve had a chance to finish up my current series and work on some other books I’ve been kicking around.  Still, a co-worker’s been reading it and telling people it’s “…good and weird and it makes you think” so yeah…there’s that.

Use code DT27K to snatch up Ascension for $2.99 (40%).
Games:

I’ve been playing [PROTOTYPE] in the mornings, so you can blame that on some of my slow progress lately.  It’s been a lot of fun, though, and has proven quite cathartic.  I’m reaching the end soon and I’m trying to decide what next to focus on.

I also tried out Rocksmith this last week.  One of the first things they have you do is tune the guitar and I ended up busting a string.  It wouldn’t let me go further without tuning, so I had to play the appropriate notes on the strings I already had in tune (fortunately, I know the guitar well enough to do that).  The game starts you out slow…really slow.  I played (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction from the Rolling Stones and scored 90% accuracy, even though I only had to play one note in seventeen (I’m guessing, but I don’t think that’s far off).  Then I played a fret game where you had to hit a note on the appropriate fret to shoot down a duck.  The first time I played I scored a measly 215 points.  The second time I scored over 14K.  So I’d say I improved a bit in the small amount of time I got to play.

I picked up Deadmund’s Quest Move Bundle, which includes the game, a copy of Sports Champions, a PlayStation Eye, and a Move Controller for an obscenely low price.  I haven’t had a chance to play it yet (by the time I charged up the controller, my time to play was up), but I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Music:

I bought an adapter to my external hard drive this past week, giving me access to numerous photos and videos I haven’t seen for some time.  Also on there was my entire MP3 collection from days past.  Needless to say, my MP3 player is bursting at the seams from bands I hadn’t heard for a while, from The Tea Party to Stabbing Westward and I’ve been reveling in the memories.  I also picked up Born To Die by Lana Del Rey and Lungs and Ceremonials by Florence + The Machine, which I’ve been totally digging.  We even downloaded a few tracks for Singstar, so I could be reminded how horrible a singer I am.

Well, that’s a brief snapshot of my sad, sad week.  I’ll try to do a better job of updating this blog, though I doubt I’ll be able to reclaim my glory days of NaBloPoMo.  In the event I don’t get around to writing more before the holidays, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas or the happiest of holidays you celebrate.

Thanks for reading.

S.L. Madden

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

If I Can Do It….

As many of you know, I am knee-deep in NaNoWriMo now.  No, it’s not a potentially contagious disease (although my mother has contracted NaNo fever this year and is working on a brand new fantasy).  It’s where writers and wanna-be’s the world over decide to dedicate their time and sanity toward writing at least 50,000 words of a new novel.  It may seem a lofty goal, but it averages out to 1667 words per day, assuming you write each day in November.

I have tried–and failed–three times before this.  Each time, I went in with gusto, convinced I’d come out with a workable rough copy.  And each time, a few weeks in, I thought, Eh, maybe I should be working on something else instead.

Not this year.

My pedal is fully to the metal, so to speak, and I really have no doubt I will meet the 50K goal.  In fact, I’m so confident, I’m raising my personal goal to 80K, or whatever it takes to write the words The End, by November 30th.  Granted, I’ll spend the next several weeks (months?) in rewrite and edit hell, but I’ll have something to work off, instead of having these ideas and characters trapped in my head.

Despite my bravado, it is daunting.  Writing a book–even a rough draft–in a month is a lot to take on.  And I can understand why some may shy from participating.  Whatever their excuse, however (barring any unforeseen natural disasters or family tragedies), I believe every single person who has the will and drive can make it happen.

I know some of you are in school, with classes and homework taking up a large part of your day.  Others work full-time, and by the time you’re done, your energy is depleted.  I understand all of these things.  I work full-time, leaving for work at 0845 and often getting home around 7 or 7:30 at night.  And when I do get home, I have an Autistic six-year-old to watch.  Why point out the fact she’s Autistic?  Because as time-consuming as kids are, my daughter is especially so.  I can’t don my headphones and get to typing for fear of her getting into something (which she will; she has no qualms taking advantage when we let our guards down).

The need to constantly be up and down, trying to keep an eye on her, isn’t very conducive to writing.  So I’ve had to devise some workarounds.  I get up early in the morning, about an hour to an hour and a half before I need to, for the sole purpose of writing.  Yes, I’m tired and more than likely shaving years off my life, but I’ve gotten a lot accomplished in this time without taking time away from my family (just those last few years of my life that really weren’t going to be all that high quality anyway).  Then, when I’m done, I email it to myself at work, so that I can continue writing during my lunch break.  That gives me about another 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time I have to spend eating.

This practice has allowed me to stay ahead of the curve this NaNo season, even though I missed out on a few days already.  If the need arose, I know my wife would allow me some time to write at night as well, but I truly try to not take up any time I could otherwise be spending with my family.

No, the one who is truly suffering here is my PS3, who sits up high on a shelf, watching me stumble down the hallway every morning.  I can practically hear its Cell processor thinking, Pick me.  Pick me.  Remember how much fun we have together?  We can have that again.  Just don’t go to the keyboard.  Pick up a controller.  Not the keyboard.  Not…Damn!

Don’t worry, PS3.  This isn’t forever.  Soon, NaNo will be a thing of the past (although I’ll be mentally preparing myself for next year).  Even with edits and rewrites, I’ll find a way to bring you back into my life.

Because not only am I a father, a husband, a full-time employee, a writer and, arguably, a generous lover…I’m also a gamer.  And if I can be all those things and still beat the 50K goal, anyone can.

S.L. Madden

(BTW, if there are any other fellow PS3 gamers out there, my gamer id is fractality820.  I could always use more friends.)

 

Everything At Once

I’m nearly ready to launch my new book, The Shadow Walker.  I set a goal for myself to get it out by Halloween (at first, I thought I could get the 2nd Only Human on the Block out at the same time, but we’ll just overlook that for now).  The book isn’t horror and doesn’t take place on Halloween, but I think it fits in well with the holiday.  It certainly has nothing to do with Santa and little to do with eating turkey.

Even though I only started publishing in July, it seems like it’s been a long journey to get to this point.  Ascension and The Four-Year-Old Guardian were nearly done when I started.  It mostly came down to some formatting and a little tweaking.  The Shadow Walker was my NaNoWriMo project last year, so if I pull this off, it’ll be a one-year turnaround.  That’s a record for me.  Even better, I’m nearly done writing the second one, The Shadow Within and plan to write the third, World of Shadows, for NaNo this year.  If all goes well, I’ll have the entire trilogy written by the end of the year, with plans to publish it all by early next year.

As I get closer and closer to my self-imposed deadlines, I’m starting to feel the pressure.  We’re getting a dog this weekend (a beautiful Collie named Chance, which is great, because I have a cat named Kharma), so it’s been a little crazier than usual at home trying to get everything ready.  Natalie seems to know we’re stressing about getting the house clean, because she’s been going out of her way to make sure it isn’t.  I also decided to quit caffeine last week.  Norma’s been talking about dieting and cutting out Coke seemed a logical first step.  I’ve quit before, but it’s been some time, so I was ill prepared for the pain associated with getting caffeine out of my system.  As a result, I feel like I’ve been zombie-walking through the week.  I’ve had a constant dull ache in my bones and a pervasive fog over my mind.  I’m happy to say, I’m feeling much better today.

In addition to trying to write the last few chapters of The Shadow Within and plot out how the trilogy will end in World of Shadows, I’ve also been trying to work on edits for Bravado/Dramatique.  In hindsight, I should have released these books in a different order.  I’d love to get the whole Only Human on the Block series out (or at least finish the fourth book, which I’ve been stalled on for over two years), but that’ll have to wait until next year.

The biggest hurdle I’ve had to face in getting this book out was one I put in place myself: a game called Dark Souls.  I don’t play games all the time, but this particular one has really grabbed hold of me.  I knew it would, as its spiritual predecessor, Demon’s Souls, did the same, but I still bought it day one.  October 4th.  A few weeks before my deadline.  Why I didn’t wait until after the book was published, I can’t say.  But balancing my time between editing and playing has proven to be one of the more difficult obstacles.  I just keep telling myself to focus on the editing and then, when it’s all done and ready to go live, I can go back to getting slaughtered.

In the meantime, I’m just glad the headaches are starting to go away and I hope getting some fresh air while walking Chance will help.