Give It Away Now

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

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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….

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

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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Only Human On The Block Sale

I’m still plugging away on The Blood Contract, book four of the Only Human on the Block series.  As of yesterday, I’m sitting at 73K words, and there’s quite a bit more to add.  Still, I’m targeting a June release (yes, I remain an optimist), and it occurred to me I haven’t had a sale on my books in some time.  So, in honor of the (hopefully!) June release of The Blood Contract, I’m going to have the first three books in the series on sale for $.99 each through June first. This will actually mark the first time Together Alone has been on sale since going live last December.

Each title can be downloaded from the Smashwords site, in whatever format eReader you prefer.  You will need a coupon code to get the discount, but I think saving $2 per book is worth inputting 5 characters.  Just click on the links below, input the given coupon code, and enjoy!

fyogaThe Four-Year-Old Guardian – XG58W

 

 

 

 

 

 

BDBravado/Dramatique – WV33W

 

 

 

 

 

 

Together Alone ImageTogether Alone – JZ44Y
 

 

Thanks for reading,

 

S.L. Madden

 

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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