Give It Away Now

It’s my birthday tomorrow (the 20th) and I’ve decided to celebrate by getting my Oprah. 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

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Catching Up

Hello, old friends. Old as in we’ve been friends for a while. I’m not making any kind of commentary about your ages. After all, none of us have ever been this old before. Nor shall we ever be this young again.

I know it’s been a long time since I last posted anything here, so it would stand to reason I might have some grand announcement to make, such as I finished AfterLife and The Shadow Without and they will both be available soon!

Well….

I haven’t been quite as productive as I would have liked. After going back and forth between which of my next two books to focus on, I ultimately decided on The Shadow Without (The Shadow Within came out nearly two years ago, whereas The Blood Contract came out just last November). I sent the first 12 chapters to a dedicated reader who I trust to go over (hi, Mom!) and I’ve nearly powered through the chapters I’ve been meaning to add since finishing the rough draft for NaNo in 2013. After this, I just have to rewrite the end and tweak the remaining chapters. It won’t be terribly soon but I remain optimistic it will be out before the end of the year.

I haven’t touched AfterLife since I decided to focus on The Shadow Without. Fortunately, I had a pretty good run on it before I decided to switch gears. If I had to guess, I’d say the rough draft is maybe 20-25% done. Though it’s unlikely I’ll finish it this year, I’m going to give it my all after The Shadow Without is published (and once I’m done with my NaNo book). So if I can’t get it out by the end of the year, 2016 is pretty much a guarantee.

Of course, I haven’t been totally screwing around these last few months. I recently went through and helped to edit one of my mom’s upcoming books (that would be Swagon Drorn by Mickee Madden). I’ve also been kind of sort of working on a bit of a concept album (still very much in the rudimentary stages). I’m also about halfway through a short erotica story I intend to expand into a series. Plus life and junk.

To sum it up: I’m still alive, I’m still working and I’m still as slow as ever. As they say, good things come to those who wait. And I do know I’ve left you all waiting.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Choose Your Own Adventure

As of yesterday, I have crossed the 30K word threshold on AfterLife. I realize that is still well shy of the 50K goal I was shooting for in November for NaNo, but it’s still nice to see some forward momentum on the series. Fortunately, the pieces have been falling into place rather well, even as new parts of the puzzle present themselves. At this rate, I feel fairly comfortable saying I’ll be able to wrap up this book–and this series–exactly the way I intended.

But while progress is being made on AfterLife, the other iron I currently have in the fire has been largely ignored. When I published The Shadow Within back in August of 2013 (has it really been that long?) I promised the follow-up book would be coming soon. In fact, November of that year, I passed the NaNo finish line with that very book. And then…nothing.

I promise I haven’t forgotten about it. Technically I have a finished rough draft of about 70K words (average for that particular series). I started going back through it immediately after completing it and found a lot of changes to be made. For starters, the first handful of chapters were written in a third instead of first person (don’t ask what I was thinking of there). At some point, I realized the book was going to be split into two, so I had some difficulty setting that into motion. I also found some of the scenes needed to be fleshed out considerably, including developing some of the ancillary characters a bit more. All par for the course when working off a rough draft.

But then I started adding new scenes and tweaking old ones, and I never really did like the end I had written. Knowing the editing was going to take more time than I first expected, I turned my attention to finishing up and releasing Together Alone, which was published in December of 2013 (busy year for me, I guess).

I fully intended to devote all my energy into World of Shadows at that point. It became the book I brought to my critique group and progress on it was going well…until I hit another wall.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Okay, I acknowledge it can exist, but there are far too many ideas, plots and characters bouncing around in this noggin to get stuck in any one place for too long. But when trying to insert a particular chapter, stuck is exactly where I found myself. I’m not sure if it’s because I’d allowed too much time to pass and was having difficulty realigning with the characters or if the knowledge I had to completely rewrite the next chapter, but I found myself unable to proceed.

Deciding I needed a little break, I started working on The Blood Contract, thinking I wouldn’t get very far with it before returning back to finish up World of Shadows, which I was now playing around with calling The Shadow Without. I found myself in a groove and The Blood Contract was released in November of 2014.

Of course, I told myself at the time I would get back to finishing up The Shadow Without.

So here I am, nearly four months later, and all of my attention has been focused on finishing up AfterLife. As I said earlier, work on it is coming along nicely, if not as quickly as I would like. But the fact The Shadow Without is still sitting there unfinished gnaws at me. I just have to finish that troublesome chapter, rewrite the next and rework the end. Shouldn’t take me too long. I have little doubt I’ll be able to get it out in 2015 if I give it all of my attention.

But work on AfterLife is flowing so well….

My point after all this meandering is I leave the decision to you, my loyal readers. Would you rather I work on AfterLife or The Shadow Without? Are you eager to reach the end of the Only Human on the Block series or are you reluctant to say goodbye to those characters (though it may not exactly be the end for every character….)? Or are you tired of waiting to see just wait the Uracai have in store for humankind?

Thanks for reading!

S.L. Madden

2015 – My Resolve for Resolution

Typically I don’t do the whole New Year’s Resolution thing. Instead of using a fairly arbitrary date as a springboard for change, I try to keep myself in a rather liquid state. If I notice I’m developing/resorting back to bad habits, I try to conquer them there and then. Life is too short, after all, to put off til next year that which I can change right now.

Only, I haven’t exactly been doing a bang-up job of changing. I haven’t even been adapting well to the changes going on around me. Perhaps I’m at an age where my stick is firmly rooted in the mud. Maybe I’ve settled into a sense of what is right and wrong, and can no longer see/think past my narrow viewpoint. Maybe those damn kids need to cut their hair and stay off my lawn!

I thought it would be good this year to use the New Year as an opportunity to realign my thinking and set myself back on my intended path.

Resolution #1: No Time Like The Present

Procrastination has long been a friend of mine. It was there for me during school for every pre-final cram session. It rears its head still every time my car is due for an oil change. And of course, it inspires me to write about my resolutions three days into the new year.

No more.

Yes, I have a chaotic (some might say artistic…my regards to those fine folks) mind, but technology is such we can temper those urgings. If I have to set a reminder on my phone for events throughout the entire year, so be it.

I just need to get around to setting them up.

Resolution #2: Be A Writer!

I started self-publishing in June of 2011. In the 3.5 years since then, I’ve put out seven books spanning two series and a stand-alone (at least until I get around to writing those sequels).

Not to shabby for a guy who works 40+ hours per week. But it could be so much more.

During this last NaNoWriMo, I wrote 25K words of my new novel, AfterLife. Well short of my 50K goal, but it was a tremendous start. And I truly only focused on it for a short period of time. Most of my writing energy went into publishing The Blood Contract.

I’m setting myself a goal of 5,000 words per week for this entire year. Again, it’s not nearly as lofty as NaNo calls for, but I believe it’s 100% doable (after all, the secret to successful goals is to make them realistic). This should allow me to produce a rough draft every six months or better. Then, while working on editing, I’ll continue with my 5,000 word goal on my next project.

I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve but I have so many other stories waiting to be told. I’m at a point where if I retired from my day job to focus solely on writing, I wouldn’t be scrambling for a new story idea for years to come.

Resolution #3: Communication

Whether it’s updating all of you through this blog or finding the perfect words to articulate to my wife how I’m feeling, I’ve come to realize communication isn’t my strong point. It’s not that I don’t want it to be. I’m a strange mix of an introverted-extrovert, someone you could work with for years and barely get to know, yet when I open up, I do so fully. I tend to eschew societal lines in a willingness to talk about most anything and everything. Especially if I think it’s funny.

I find most everything funny.

I can’t promise to change the core of who I am and suddenly be everyone’s friend, but I’m resolving to open myself up to the world a bit. To not be so afraid to make a comment in mixed company or to joke when there’s more people in the room than is my official level of comfort (seems to be three at this point in my life).

I also resolve to write in this blog more often. Not every day, but no more lapses of a month or more. This thing is supposed to be my microphone, my way of broadcasting without the fear of my social anxiety robbing me of all coherent thought. It’s the written word–my comfort zone–and I need to embrace it more often.

Which somewhat leads into…

Resolution #4: I Won’t Be Afraid of Success

Seems a silly resolution, doesn’t it? What’s the point of doing something if you don’t want to succeed at it? Yet, I constantly find with writing, I’ve given myself a way out.

“All I ever wanted was to get my books out to people.”

That’s been my mantra the past few years, and while it’s true, it’s not enough. Early on when publishing, I kept up on current trends, applied strategies on how to be successful at this whole writing thing.

Then I stopped.

I don’t exactly recall when it happened, but I started focusing solely on putting the books out. No marketing strategy. No author interviews. No giveaways. I just blog about my progress every now and then, perhaps a tweet or two and, oh, did you happen to notice I out out a book last week? Well, I’m off to the next one.

It’s no wonder my first few books were the only ones to really receive any reviews.

Even recently, I was part of an amazing sale put together by a great writer. What did I do to promote it? A single blog post. That’s it. Not only did I fail myself, I failed the other writers who were participating.

No more.

I suppose this harkens back to Resolution #1 in a way, but it’s more than procrastination. I feel a tangible sense of dread whenever it comes to promoting myself, like there’s a part of me who just doesn’t think I deserve to be successful.

I’m ignoring that part of me from now on.

If you made it this far, thanks for indulging me. If not, well you’re not reading this but anyway but I’m sure you have it your best.

As a little post-Resolution list Resolution, I resolve to never wrote a post this long on my phone ever again, starting to get the crab hand.

Thanks for reading and have a great 2015!

S.L. Madden

Stocking Your E-Reader Sale

Get a shiny new Kindle for Christmas? Have winter break off and wondering what to do? Or perhaps you’re addicted to the printed word and just can’t get enough?

Behold, the second annual Stocking Your E-Reader Sale!

Courtesy of author Angela Kulig, you can find plenty of great reads here. Books range from free to $.99 and will be available from December 29th (today!) through January 2nd.

Just in time to stock up before returning to the grind.

And while you’re at it, sign up to receive some pretty nifty prizes, including an Amazon gift card and a Kindle Fire color, just waiting to be filled with some amazing books by some pretty amazing authors.

For my part, you can find all of the books for my two series on sale. That means The Shadow Walker, The Shadow Within, The Four-Year-Old Guardian, Bravado/Dramatique, Together Alone and the recently released The Blood Contract are all $.99 for the duration of the sale.

Enjoy and 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

A New Look

In all of my excitement over NaNo/finishing up The Blood Contract (with a steady dose of boo-hooing about my hip), I forgot to mention my blog has a new look. Though it’s not technically writery, I liked the clean lines and look of it. Let me know what you think. Did you like the old look better? Would you prefer something that looked more geared toward writing?

While I’m at it, I should add I’m at 3593 words so far. That’s an average of 598 words per day, vs the target of 1667.  Gulp! Still, it’s early enough, I remain confident I’ll be able to catch up. Besides, I’m almost done with the first chapter and that’s something I wouldn’t be able to claim a week ago.

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

Down To The Wire

I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to get The Blood Contract out the door (not to mention dealing with RL), I nearly overlooked the fact NaNoWriMo season is upon us.

Yes, it’s that time of year once more, where writers and authors and wannabes strive to hit the goal of at least 50K words in the month of November. My past experiences with NaNo have been a mixed lot. I’ve only beaten the goal once (with The Shadow Without a few years back), but every year has proven to be quite an experience. Even the weeks leading up to the event are typically quite hectic (mentally, at least) while I start organizing the flow of the story I’m to work on.

This year, however, I found myself staring at the clock last night as it approached midnight and I realized I still had no idea what book I wanted to work on.

Months ago, I settled on a fantasy I’ve been wanting to write for over a decade. I thought it appropriate since I once called myself a fantasy writer, yet I’ve never actually published anything that resembles fantasy in the proper sense. I had put it off all these years because I just couldn’t settle on a title. Yes, that’s all it takes to derail me. I know the characters, major plot points, the beginning and the end, even ideas for future books…but without a title, I just couldn’t get started on it.

I have a title and was raring to go.

Then strangely, another story crept its way into my mind and took hold. It was an idea I had some time ago, though I never really did anything with it. I had just the vaguest idea of a plot and that’s it. No idea about the characters or really where it was all headed. But I had a title. And, strangely, a theme song (my guitar playing sucks but I’m pretty happy with the tune itself).

As November approached, ideas started filtering in. While the characters are still nameless, little details began to form. What was a concept became an idea, which in turn evolved into a plot. It was still very much in what I call the liquid form of writing (that is, when it’s still unformed and easy to manipulate), but it was fast taking shape. I even had the opening few paragraphs down, which is often a difficult feat for me.

It was everything I could want from a NaNo book. Brand new and full of potential.

Yet I couldn’t escape the feeling I should press on with the Only Human on the Block series. After eight years, I’m finally on the fifth and final book of the series, AfterLife. As much as I enjoy using NaNo to work on something completely different, I was fully enmeshed in this world, having just spent the last several months working on the previous book. I’m raring to finish up the series and must admit I feel a sense of responsibility to those readers of mine who have been waiting patiently.

So when my lunch time arrived and I still hadn’t figured out which book to work on, I started typing the first thing that came to me. An hour later, I was 1410 words into AfterLife.

I wrote the rough draft for The Four-Year-Old Guardian (conveniently still free on Kindle through Amazon through 11/2, hint hint) in the span of a month. Bravado/Dramatique and Together Alone took a few months each. Even though I didn’t write them for NaNo or any such contest, I was able to accomplish this because I was passionate about the story and just let it flow out. By the time I hit the fourth book, The Blood Contract, I slowed down severely. Although I’m quite happy with how it turned out, it was more of a laborious task, taking me over a year to write most of the rough draft before I shelved it and focused on publishing.

I was afraid once I hit the section I had stopped at years ago, I’d find myself back in the rut, but it turned out to be the exact opposite. By the time I got to the new stuff, I was on a writing high, excited about the story and characters once more. I feel like those last several chapters worked rather well, and I want to capitalize on this feeling by continuing to work on the series. If I can keep this momentum going, the final book should have a much shorter gestation period.

And that, I believe, is better for all of us.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

1410 words and counting….