The White Towel

After much deliberation, soul searching, throwing my hands in the air like I just don’t care, and many salty tears, I have officially given up on both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo this year. I could go on about all the things going on in my life but we all have things we’re dealing with. The world won’t stop for us every November, so we have to find a way to squeeze all of this in without missing a beat. I’ve done a horrible job of that.

I still intend to work on this NaNo book, The Waking Dream, though it may have to wait until I (finally) finish The Shadow Without and AfterLife.

Best of luck to those still in the race. I’ll see you at the starting line next year.

S.L. Madden

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Did I Miss The Gun?

Four days into NaNo and I’m still at the starting gate. I got in my first 1,000 words and since then…nothing.

It’s not that I’m uninspired by the story I chose. On the contrary, I’m excited to rip into something a little different from what I’ve done the last several years (although I must admit this book has some similarities to Ascension, the first book I published. I was almost tempted to set it in that same world at one point). No, I believe my lack of forward momentum can be attributed to one (or all) of the things below:

Times They Are A’changin‘: my schedule at work recently underwent a drastic change due to someone leaving. While I’m filling in (and if I end up eventually getting that job), I know longer have a lunch period. Which is, unfortunately, when I was able to get the vast majority of my writing done. It was a dedicated hour per day where I could don my earbuds and (hopefully) tune out the world. Losing that means I’ll have to write at home, which has plenty of….

Distract–ooh, shiny!: how do you cat lovers out there write at home? I know the sound of my computer chair is like a summoning bell for all things furry at my place. And even when they eventually tire of my lap, I still have a budding music studio begging for attention, plus the Internet, games….

Here/Not Here: okay this excuse may all be in my head…or maybe it’s not. That’s the point. I recently started taking Prozac to help with my anxiety. While I can’t be sure it’s helping (or hurting, for that matter), I have found I’ve been extremely fatigued lately. But then again, I started using a (defective) cpap machine at the same time and switched my schedule around. 

So I’m not sure what exactly is to blame for my tiredness. I am worried the Prozac is taking my creative edge off. Normally, I spend my free time running through plot points, character interactions, action pieces, etc. I listen to music and play the scenes out in my mind, letting the emotions take me where they will. That way, when I sit down to write, I will have felt out the scene already.

Lately, I’ve felt… Nothing. I can think of plots and specific beats I need to hit, flesh out characters’ backgrounds, but I don’t feel any of it. Now, this could certainly be attributed to the fact this is a new story with new characters, but I’ve been working on this book in my head for a few years now. And a few weeks ago, I was raring to go on it. Ideas were pouring in and I was excited. Right now…not so much. Maybe the pill is an easy thing to blame, but whatever the reason, my heart isn’t in it right now.

All Signs Point To: of course, the most obvious answer is that I’m just being a lazy ass. I love writing but when under the gun, it changes from a helpful creative outlet to work. And right now, I’m already working my ass off. I’ve been pulling ten and eleven hour days plus working a few hours on my day off. Makes the notion of staring at a computer screen for a few more hours at home not so appealing.

So there’s my list of excuses for why I’m lagging on day four. I suppose I could’ve taken this time to write more on my chapter, but it’s hard to type a novel out on your phone. Just because I’m dropping excuses however, don’t think I’ve given up. I’m determined to cross the finish line this year.

At least I’ve been keeping up on this blog.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

The First 1000 Words

Day two of NaNo and I’m already well behind the recommended word allotment. By more than two thousand words! I’m not sweating it however. After all, I’ve already cleared one major hurdle just by starting the damn thing. And opening scenes have never been all that much fun for me.

Sure, I’ve had this scene in my head for years now, down to the minutia of how I wanted each phrase worded. But when flesh hit keyboard, what came out was something that resembles what had been in my head but was, in fact, wholly different. It’s like making up a song you hum all the time and can hear the instrumentation in your mind, yet when you record it, the end result isn’t quite the same.

One thing I find once I start writing is that for all the nuance and detail I think I have in each sentence, there are plenty of things I haven’t thought of yet. Maybe the narrative has been fleshed out, but I haven’t given dialogue much thought (in my case, it’s usually the other way around). Or somebody in the scene responds to something in a way in which I didn’t anticipate, yet fits organically. Now the other characters have to play off of that reaction. Whole chapters (hell, whole characters and plot threads) have been created this way.

So while I don’t have a whole lot written so far, I’ve pushed my mental boulder to the edge and gravity is taking over. New scenarios, character relations and key plot points are coming to life. I’m not sure what the end result will be but whatever it is, it’s being shaped by those first thousand words.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Into The Fray Once More

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween. I divided my time between working and contemplating work to come. Not only is tonight a celebration of all things spooky, it also marks the night before NaNoWriMo begins. 

For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month), is a yearly marathon of the writery kind. From November 1st (which, by my clock, it now is) through the 30th, the goal is to produce at least 50,000 words in a brand new, fresh out the brain, novel. It doesn’t have to be pretty or complete, but it does have to meet the goal.

At the same time, NaBloPoMo is happening. That stands for National Blog Posting Month, just in case you thought I laughed so hard while eating alphabet soup, these letters came out of my nose. The goal there is to post every day on my blog in the month of November. I generally take a stab at both, because I prefer to fail at multiple things simultaneously.

Since I’ve passed into tomorrow (or today… However you choose to look at it), I suppose this counts as post number one. So far, so good. Now I just hope my new novel goes as smoothly. I’d tell you all about it and some of the challenges I’ll face this year trying to meet the goal, but I have to save something to blog about for the next 29 days.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

To My Friends and Family (And Fans)

Somehow along the way I’ve become that guy who says he’ll call, yet you don’t hear from him for weeks. Or the friend who offers to get together then never shows up.

Only in this case, I say I’ll post more often before I fade away from existence.

I’m not exactly sure why I do this. True, last month was a bit of a cluster as I juggled NaNoWriMo (bombed it), NaBloPoMo (not even close) and releasing The Blood Contract (hey, I did something right!) but that doesn’t give me an excuse for dropping the ball.

For instance, did you know I ran a $.99 sale on Ascension a few weeks back? You might if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, but why didn’t I make it known here? I honestly have no idea.

The best I can tell, I’ve been in a bit of a rut. Down. Troubled. I hesitate to use the word depressed because I know people who suffer from depression and I don’t want to make light of what they go through by equating my feelings with theirs. But when I read up on what depression is, I have to say, it sounds pretty similar.

At odd random moments, my mind will wander and not come back for a time. Someone will say something perfectly innocent and it’ll completely crush me and I find myself trapped under that weight for the remainder of the day. At times I feel a pressure building in my chest, like a lead weight that makes it impossible for me to function. Worst, in my opinion, is a dulling of my senses. The humor I typically find in pretty much everything is conspicuously absent, and both music and writing have felt like a chore.

Now having said that, I should point out, I’m not like this at all times. In fact, I’ve been feeling especially good these past few days, a sort of appreciation for all the calm after the storm. But I have no reassurances the darker days won’t come back.

I’ve tried thinking my way through them, approaching the issues logically. I was determined that if I could only puzzle out this discordance, I could somehow fix it. As my therapist pointed out (yes, I opted for a second opinion) this need to solve the issue is a big part of my problem. I tend to fixate on an issue until I can solve it. And this particular problem has no easy solution. No logical outcome.

Without going into great and boring detail, I miss my daughter. It’s been over a year since she moved away, yet she remains in my heart and on my mind at all times. And there is no easy way for me to see her. I need to accept I’ll play a greatly reduced role in her life from now on but I’ve been unable to get myself to that point.

Still, knowing the solution isn’t something I can come up with on my own has somehow helped. As I said, I’ve actually been in better spirits these past few days. I’ve been told I’m more like myself. I started working on a new song (that wasn’t completely depressing) and I’m feeling pretty good.

So for those of you who know me in person, I apologize in advance if I seem distant or withdrawn. If I’m there yet not present or seem on the verge of tears, I assure you, it’s not something I can help. Though it is something I’m working on.

It has nothing to do with you, or really anyone. We all have our issues we’re contending with. I’m just letting mine get the better of me lately.

Thank you for your understanding.

S.L. Madden

Epic Fail

The first thought that popped into my head upon awakening this morning was, Did I remember to blog yesterday?

Once the fog cleared, I realized I had not. Well, technically, that isn’t true. I did remember to blog. I just never got around to it. In fact I remember right up to the point it was time to go to bed. Then I forgot until this morning.

So while I may be out of the running for NaBloPoMo (not sure I was ever technically in the running to be honest), I’m still dedicated to updating my blog every day throughout this month. I may just be a bit more forgiving for those times it slips my mind.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Stumble At The Starting Gate

I’m 2607 words into NaNo as I type this. That’s roughly 651 words per day, well shy of the 1667 required to break the 50,000 word mark. Of course, the month is still early and I have time to catch up.

I should be able to get some writing in tonight, but I plan to focus on trying to finish up The Blood Contract instead of adding more words to its sequel. I really should have had the book out well before NaNo, so it’s my own fault I’m running into this issue of having to choose between the two projects. I remain confident in my ability to catch up. I’ll only feel good about it once The Blood Contract has gone gold.

I’d also like to thank everyone who took advantage of the free giveaway for The Four-Year-Old Guardian last week. While I didn’t push out hundreds of copies like I wished, I was happy with the results. Hopefully you’re reading the book and not this blog post.

S.L. Madden

The Maddening: 2013

It’s New Year’s Eve, and what kind of blogger/wannabe writer would I be if I didn’t spend some time reminiscing on the year past, and looking forward to the year to come?  So I no particular order:

Separate Ways – I was separated, then later divorced from my wife of nearly ten years in 2013.  While I can’t say this was the easiest thing I’ve ever gone through, it did make it possible for me to meet Jenn, who, as of a few nights ago, is my fiancé.  Yes, I know it seems rather quick, but when you know, you know.  I still haven’t adjusted to not seeing my daughter more, nor do I ever think I will.

Big Pubbin’ – I released two more books this year–The Shadow Within and the hot-off-the-presses Together Alone), bringing my total available books up to six.  Not too shabby considering I’ve only been at this for 2 1/2 years.  Of course, the majority of these stories were extensively worked on in the years leading up to me publishing, so I’ll be interested to see just how prolific I can be in the future.

If It’s Broke…. – While I’m proud of my accomplishments since I first began this publishing journey, I know I didn’t start out as strong as I might like.  Now that I have a bit more experience under my belt, I’ve decided to go back to my original books and clean them up a bit.  I’m not exactly in a position to go through and edit them again for now, but I recently finished fixing the dreadful table of contents for Ascension, and in the process, shrunk down the text size a bit, slimming the overall product down.  As a result, it not only looks and reads better (in my opinion), I’m also able to offer it for cheaper than it was originally.  Now that I have it out of the way, The Four-Year-Old Guardian, Bravado/Dramatique, and The Shadow Walker are next.

So Failure *Is* An Option? – NaNoWriMo… you know, that thing in November us writery folk drive ourselves crazy over, trying to produce 50,000 words in a month?  Yeah, that.  I completed it last year for the first time.  Thought I was a shoe-in this year.  Nope.  Didn’t happen.  Though in my defense, I did manage to beat NaBloPoMo.

Moving on….

Looking Back, Gazing Forward – This past year marked my first time working with an editor (the uber-talented Katy Sozaeva).  Not only has she helped me improve my writing, but I’ve learned a lot from going through her edits.  Not enough I don’t need her, however.

I’m also looking forward to working with a skilled artist for my covers in the coming year.  I’m rather proud of what we’ve been able to do in the past, but I know they can be better.  While my covers aren’t quite at the level of someone photoshopping wings on their grandchildren, with a digitized fire in the background (yes, I’ve seen that done), I still wouldn’t call them professional quality.  And I’m hoping for an image I can use in promotional material.

Which brings me to marketing.  Sigh… does any writer out there actually enjoy this part of it all?  I have to be the absolute worst at marketing.  While I tried to do a give-away with The Shadow Within, I snuck Together Alone out in the middle of the night with no fanfare.  I know it’s not the right way to do it (assuming I want to be all successful and stuff), but I just can’t help it.  Once a book is ready to go, I want it to be available.  I’d love reviews (good or bad), but I hate schmoozing for them.  Kinda drives me crazy.

Hopefully I’ll do better in the year to come.  I’m hoping to have two more books out in 2014.  I’m currently 34,000 words into the rough draft of The Blood Contract (Only Human on the Block IV… yikes!), and a few chapters away from finishing the rough draft of World of Shadows Part I: Infiltration (Unseen Things III).  I also have a series I started and stopped working on a few years back that I recently unearthed.  In my spare time, I think I’m going to blow the dust off of it and see what I can make of it.  And then, of course, there’s NaNo come November.  I will not fail this year.

So, as usual, a lot on my plate, but nothing I can’t handle.  I imagine this time next year, I’ll be looking back at all I accomplished (and everything I failed at), and looking forward to 2015 being a banner year.

’til then, the future remains a mystery.

Thanks for reading… Happy New Year, and be safe.

S.L. Madden