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.

 

 

 

 

Failures And Silver Linings

How best to follow up a blog post boldly declaring I was going to hunker down and write, write, write this year, while maintaining better communication in the process? If you’re me, you wait several weeks to update your blog with an apology for having written very little!

I have a pocket full of excuses I can use to explain myself. My usual routine of writing on my lunch break has been disrupted because I’ve been covering somebody else’s shift. I haven’t been writing at home because my work space is a mess and needs to be organized. Even then, my cat loves it a little too much when I’m on my computer, and goes out of her way to make sure I accomplish as little as possible.

I’m sure I could generate a few more excuses, but that’s all they really are. Truth is, as much as I enjoy writing, sometimes I need a little break from it. Even that isn’t entirely true, as I’m technically always writing. My mind never stops working on the story, even when my fingers are on hiatus. And to be honest, this break has helped me fill in some of the gaps of the story, the how’s and why’s that take me from Point A to Point Z.

When I first started writing, I used to make plot outlines detailing each chapter. Despite that, I found the characters had a way of deviating from my plans and taking off on their own. This was problematic when I had the story so structured I hadn’t allowed for much wiggle room.

These days, I come up with the overall plot and characters then give myself certain waypoints in the storyline. For instance, I could have written the end of the Only Human on the Block series nine years ago when I first started coming up with the plot. I’d even be willing to say it’ll likely be word for word with my original imagining. But a lot of the events and characters leading up to all of this have shifted and changed over the years. Even now, so close to the end, I find the characters and world drawing me in directions I didn’t anticipate. Just in the past week, pieces of the puzzle mentally popped into place for me, bringing new insight as to just why some of the characters are going to do what I know needs to be done.

I prefer this method of writing over the more rigid style I tried earlier in my career, but it does have its drawbacks. I had a decent idea of what I wanted to do with The Shadow Walker (although I admit parts of that book took me by surprise) when I started, but the sequel, The Shadow Within, was written in an almost NaNo like fashion. I had a few vague scenes in mind and I just went for it.

The same holds true for the third book (tentatively titled The Shadow Without) but it’s not working to my advantage. The main structure of the book has been completed for some time now but there are still some missing puzzle pieces I’m not completely sure how to handle. And that could be because I only have a rough idea of what the fourth and final book will be, with no clear end in mind. I like flying by the seat of my pants when I write, but I think I could use a tad more structure when working on that series. As a result, I’ve been putting off finishing it up, even though I am technically far closer to completely the third book than I am AfterLife.

So what’s the point of this post? One, I wanted to let you know I still live. Hopefully I’ve accomplished that and this doesn’t read like I’m one of the undead. Two, I wanted to publicly flog myself for failing to meet my 50K per week pledge, while also reassuring my loyal readers I haven’t forgotten you.

Thanks for reading!

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

What’s Old Is New Again

First off, let me address the white elephant in the room: it’s now a week into October, and The Blood Contract still hasn’t gone live. I know I originally anticipated it would be released in June (I was so naïve in my youth), then said it should definitely be out by the end of September. So what happened?

Well, I’m still in the process of finishing up the cover, formatting it, and all those fun little final touches, but mostly, I’ve been waiting on a marked-up copy from my mother. She offered to proof it for me, but while in the process, she ended up hurting her back. Last I saw her, she was feeling pretty good on her pain meds, so I anticipate it won’t be long now (just take care of yourself, Mom! That’s far more important). Besides, an October release seems appropriate for this story.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep my writery self busy. The current chapter of The Shadow Without has proven to be slow-going, I think because I’m not entirely sure what its purpose is. It’s an add-on to my original rough draft, and I know where I want it to go, but I’m having a hard time making it an engaging chapter on its own. Then, after that, I need to completely retool the next chapter and the ending. And that will finish up the rough draft. Whoo!

Also, I am now done reformatting my entire back catalog. I’ve made the fonts smaller on all of my books, which allowed me to shorten the length and reduce the price (in most cases. Oddly some stayed the same). In the case of Ascension, I was finally able to reduce the size from 6X9 to 5X8, to match the rest of my books. I haven’t yet decided whether I want to completely retire the 6X9 version, or if I want to release a big font version (if demand necessitates it). Also, after asking co-workers, friends and family about their preference between the matte and glossy covers, matte won out in a landslide. So all of my covers are now sporting that finish.

Ascension isn’t quite available through Amazon yet, but should be soon. The new versions of The Four-Year-Old Guardian, Bravado/Dramatique, Together Alone, The Shadow Walker, The Shadow Within are ready now.

And yes, soon The Blood Contract will be added to that list.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

Splitting The Shadow

For those of you who have been following this blog, you may have noticed I’ve been going back and forth a bit concerning the third book in my Unseen Things trilogy.  I wrote the first part of it in 2012 (really?  Sheesh….) for NaNoWriMo and since then… not a whole lot.

The issue I ran into at the time was the third book was shaping up to be quite a bit bigger than the first two.  And there was a definite change from part one to part two, to where it seemed it might be better served as two separate books.  So I split them up, calling them World of Shadows I: Proliferation and World of Shadows II: Invasion respectively.  That way each book could have its own release without me breaking my promise of a trilogy.

Well, what’s the point of promises if not to give us something to break?

I’ve been mulling it over, and I’ve come to the conclusion they truly are two separate books.  They’re no more connected than The Shadow Walker and The Shadow Within.  So I’ve decided to turn my trilogy into a quadrilogy.  My current plan is to refocus on finishing up the third book, now tentatively titled The Shadow Without, once I’ve completed The Blood Contract.  Hopefully this will be before NaNo hits again this year.  Then next year I’ll work on the final books for both series–Afterlife (Only Human on the Block V) and Twin Shadows (Unseen Things IV).  I’m still up in the air about the name changes (note: Twin Shadows was actually my original title for The Shadow Within), and as such, I’m open to suggestions.

Thank you everyone for your patience, and as always, thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha

A Google search will yield a half dozen ways to write out the titular sound effect, but however you choose to spell it, Friday the 13th instantly springs to mind.  In addition to a glut of hockey-masked slasher movies, this Friday the 13th you can also enjoy an array of books on sale, courtesy of author Angela Kulig’s “Books Are For Freaks!” sale through her blog, which can be found here.

I’m a latecomer to the sale, so I’m keeping my fingers I was able to enter my books in time.  If so, you’ll be able to find The Four-Year-Old Guardian, Bravado/Dramatique, Together Alone, The Shadow Walker, and The Shadow Within will all be on sale for $.99 apiece!  And if my titles aren’t enough to draw you to check it out, there’s over a dozen other authors offering their books at a discount, plus I hear rumblings of giveaways.  So go check out the selections and throw some love Angela Kulig’s way for putting this whole thing together.

Thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

 

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Passed Releases

I know I originally posted my intentions to have the next book ready by this month.  While I’m definitely approaching the end of the first draft, it is sadly just that.  It’s still in dire need of an edit.  So while I’m changing my focus on finishing the first draft by the end of June, it’s pretty clear the book won’t be ready for release any time soon.  Instead of throwing out another date and explaining why I missed it, I’m instead going to say I’m shooting to have it out be the end of this year.  While that may seem like a long time off, the entire month of November will be occupied by NaNoWriMo (still trying to decide which project to work on for it), and I’ll be simultaneously writing World of Shadows Part I (you know, that book I wanted to have out shortly after releasing The Shadow Within).  The good news there is I’ve actually made some progress on it lately, and there’s only a handful of chapters left before the first draft is done.  So if all goes well, I could realistically have both books ready to go by the end of the year.  In that respect, I suppose it’d mirror 2012 release schedule.

Because I love making lists (and I was kicking myself over taking so long on this book), I looked up the original publication dates for my previous releases.  They are as follows:

Ascension 6/30/2011
The Four-Year-Old Guardian 7/29/2011
The Shadow Walker 10/28/2011
Bravado/Dramatique 6/28/2012
The Shadow Within 8/19/2013
Together Alone 12/18/2013

Put in that context, I suppose I’m not doing too poorly.  In 2 1/2 years, I released six books, spanning three different series (assuming I ever get around to turning Ascension into a trilogy).  2011 was my most productive year, but that was helped by the fact I had already finished Ascension and The Four-Year-Old Guardian and was shopping around for an agent when I decided I no longer wanted to play that game.

So while I’m lamenting the fact I still don’t have The Blood Contract ready to go, I must admit I’m rather proud of what I’ve accomplished.  Considering I have a full-time job, a family, and other time-consuming hobbies (I’m looking at you, PS3 and guitar), I’ll take my victories where I can.

Thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

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First Signs of Life

I just realized I have been procrastinating writing a post since… well, last year!  I had no idea it had been that long.  Maybe a week or two.  So for those of you who look forward to reading my blog as a means in which to give your life purpose, I hope my absence hasn’t resulted in you doing anything rash.  And, in the unfortunate event it did, I hope you left reviews first.

I don’t really have a good excuse for being gone for so long, other than I let time slip through my fingers.  I have been keeping up with the writing.  I’m nearly at the half-way mark for The Blood Contract, book four of the Only Human on the Block series.  I’m at 53K words, so this is shaping up to be the biggest of the series yet, although I doubt it will reach the page count of Ascension, my longest book yet.  I’m shooting for a June release, but keep in mind that’s far from a firm date.  At this point, I can’t see it being any earlier than that, and June was the date I gave my cover artist.  Yes, that’s right… For the first time, I’m hiring someone to create my cover for me.  I picked a scene out of the upcoming book that I think will work, and he said he’s going to get started jotting down ideas.  I’m quite excited to see what he’ll come up with.

For those of you who are all about the Unseen Things series, I offer my apologies the third book, World of Shadows Part I, isn’t out yet.  I originally planned to release it shortly after The Shadow Within, and I even wrote the bulk of the rough draft for NaNoWriMo 2012, but I’ve been stalled on it since last Fall.  There are a few key scenes I know I needed to insert, but I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around the mechanics of them yet.  While I mentally worked on it, I started hammering out the rough draft for The Blood Contract, which was easier because I was only a few chapters shy of finishing the rough draft when I stopped writing it some six years ago.  What was supposed to tide me over until I returned to World of Shadows pretty much took over.  Coming off of publishing Together Alone at the end of last year, I was all too happy to stay in that world.  In the meantime, however, I’ve been distancing myself a bit from the events of the Unseen Things series.  I know what I need to do, I just have to get in there and do it.

Despite my procrastination, I’m confident I’ll have World of Shadows Part I out before the end of the year.  That would mean I released three titles in 2011 (Ascension, The Four-Year-Old Guardian, and The Shadow Walker), one in 2012 (my lazy year) (Bravado/Dramatique), two in 2013 (The Shadow Within and Together Alone), and now two this year (The Blood Contract and World of Shadows Part I: Proliferation).  And if all goes well, I’ll have the final books of both series (tentatively titled Afterlife and World of Shadows Part II: Invasion, respectively) ready for release next year.

Not too shabby for a guy who can barely manage to write one blog post a month.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

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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