Dear Disappointed Fan: I’m Disappointed Too

Recently, I got a message on Goodreads from a fan asking when we could expect the next book in the Sixth Sense series. I went to GR to respond to the post but it had been deleted. I’d gathered the gist of the message in the partial view GR had sent me, which was a polite but slightly forlorn request for an update. And I felt like crap when I realized the post had been removed. Now I couldn’t explain the delay to the reader. I felt like crap about the delay of the next installment, too.

See, when I submitted Unspeakable Words to Dreamspinner Press back in 2010, it was on a whim. I never expected it to be published. I expected it to languish on my hard drive while I kept banging out stories in the hope one day, I would be a published author. I didn’t think of it as the beginning of a series or the beginning of a writing career. It was just a roll of the dice that came up a winner.

I went on to write other stories people seemed to like, most notably Crying for the Moon and The Boys of Summer. I don’t write quickly, so it was 2013 before I began thinking about John Flynn and Jerry Parker again and realized they still had stories to tell me. I published Walk a Mile in 2014–four years after the first book. I caught a little flak for that, which made me wince, but it wasn’t like I hadn’t been working on other projects. I’m a slow writer. I’m doing good if I publish a book a year.

I left the boys in a bit of a dicey place at the end of Walk a Mile, and I definitely didn’t people left hanging for a resolution, so I went to work right away on Truth and Consequences, which came out in 2015. I had plans to move right ahead with the final installment of the series, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil, but first, I wanted to expand on some things in Unspeakable Words, so I went back and fleshed out some parts I felt had been underdeveloped. Right, so by the end of 2016, I was looking at pounding out DWTD and a publishing date of 2017.

Only that didn’t happen, did it?

In fact, I more or less disappeared. I popped in for the occasional post, but for the most part, I ghosted you, dear reader. For that, I’m very sorry.

I’ve been trying to decide how much of my personal life I should share with you here. The temptation is to lay it all out as evidence I have every right to be derailed by life events from completing my series. I alluded to some of the issues in this post here, but I’m disheartened to realize I wrote that post over a year ago. Part of me wants to justify my failure, if not to you, dear reader, then to myself. By saying, “See? I’ve suffered. I’m not just sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I’m struggling here.”

That’s not to say I haven’t been writing anything. I have. The words have to be chiseled out of granite and the end result is the kind of blocky, formless statue a beginning art student might create. Most days I realize I’m trying to pump water out of a dry well, to inelegantly mix my metaphors here. Some days I think I no longer have the capacity to tell stories. I remind myself depression is a lying SOB, but the end result is the same, yes? No new story out this year.

I’ve been staring at this blinking cursor wondering if I should name all the losses I’ve experienced. Of the funerals I’ve attended. Of friendships that have crashed, and communities that are gone, the pressures of work and home alike. I started to list them, but decided on a better response instead.

This is the Social Readustment Rating Scale developed by Holmes and Rahe in 1967. Basically you add up points for the various kinds of stress in your life within a year (both good and bad) and if you score over three hundred, you have an 80% chance of developing a major stress-related illness.

My score is 816.

Eight hundred and sixteen.

That would make me giggle if it didn’t make me want to cry. Take your pick of the various stressors on the list and decide which ones I’ve experienced. Chances are, I have. The sad thing is I strongly suspect most of us have scores over 300, easy.

Okay, so the stressors occurred over two years instead of one, but that’s averaging a little over four hundred a year for two years running. I’ve taken hit after hit again and again. And that doesn’t begin to count the stress of seeing what’s happening in this country right now. In fact, the only good thing about all the personal stress is that it has distracted somewhat from my anxiety over the direction we as a nation here in the US have taken. The downside of the national situation is that it makes our future seem very bleak (not just as a nation, but as a freaking species), which makes it harder to feel as though writing stories matters in the long run.

Don’t worry. I think in times like this, stories matter even more than ever. I take great comfort in posts like this one, Write Despite, by Chuck Wendig. I just find it hard to implement at times. At the end of the day, I’m wrung out emotionally and mentally, and that makes it challenging to be very creative. So essentially this post is for that poor reader who desperately wanted a hopeful update as to the next installment of the Sixth Sense series, and this is me saying, not this year. Maybe next.

Which means it will be five years since I published Truth and Consequences before you can even possibly expect the final installment to the Sixth Sense series. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to do that to you guys again.

And seriously, where did the freaking time go?

 

EDIT: The reader contacted me–the deletion of the post was because it had been published too early before she’d completed her thought. So my angst wasn’t necessary, but I think my apology was. 🙂

National Pi Day and a Dreamspinner Press Sale!

I had to laugh at this notice in my mailbox this morning–it’s National Pi Day (not Pie Day, though there is one of those, too) and to celebrate, Dreamspinner Press is holding a 31.4% off sale from now until March 19th! How cool is that?

Interested? Check out all my Dreamspinner stories here! Read on a Kindle? You can choose the format of your choice and have your book sent to you! If you’ve been waiting for the right time to check out my stories, now is the perfect time to grab a slice of Dreamspinner Pi!

Dear Pirate Site Operator: No, I Did Not Give You Permission

So there has been a lot of hullaboo about the site Ebook Bike and its operator Travis McCrea. In case you haven’t been following the blowout, EBook Bike allows people to upload content to the site, which McCrea does not moderate (as you can see in his statement here):

McCrea seems to be part of the Sharing Community, which believes they have a moral obligation to share digital content. As a matter of fact, in 2016 McCrea was the leader of a minor party called the Pirate Party of Canada.

One might suggest if you didn’t want to be labeled as a pirate, you might choose a different name for your political party.

The only statement I can find on the site itself is a generic one: Ebook Bike is about providing a new life to reading, ensuring every person around the world has the best access to the best books.

Reports that the DMCA page/link isn’t working on the site sent me looking for it–I couldn’t find it at all. I’m also hearing reports that the site collects IP addresses of those who use the DMCA form and then block them from accessing the site, making it difficult to see that no one is complying with takedown notices.

I searched the site and didn’t find any of my own titles, but another site that has people talking, oregano.com, does have some of my books listed without my permission.

EDIT: As of today, I’m told that the Ebook Bike site is down. You can celebrate that as a victory, if you like, but I believe it will re-appear under another name in the not-too-distant future. And it is just one of hundreds of similar sites.

So I think it’s time to repost my thoughts on this: I ask that you check out my posts Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me and Dear Broke Reader and Your Sense of Entitlement (Part 2).

It’s also worth checking out this article by The Guardian, discussing the backlash against authors who fought to get their books removed from the now-defunct OceansofPDF. Um, we’re not the bad guys here. For the most part, we write our books in good faith, paying developmental and copyeditors, formatters, and cover artists along the way. We pay for book tours and advertising. I bring this up because the costs of bringing a digital book to market are not ‘zero’, as some people seem to think. But beyond that. I don’t think it’s wrong for us as creators to expect to be paid for our art.

And I do think it’s wrong for someone to upload our works to sites that allow thousands of downloads without our permission–or any compensation.

Believe me, I’ve heard all the arguments. They are discussed in greater detail in the Broke Reader posts. What it boils down to is that the majority of people who feel entitled to works without paying for them do NOT fall into categories of “but I can only get this particular story in this fashion.” Yes, there are pockets of people here and there without access to affordable books on a large scale, but that’s not representative of the average pirate/torrent user. The average user of these sites wants a particular title RIGHT NOW and doesn’t want to wait for a sale or look for it at the library. That’s what I mean by a sense of entitlement.

But I will say this: if you want to continue to get quality content, then pay the creator their due. Otherwise, instead of a Picasso or Monet, you’ll have to be satisfied with a paint-by-numbers or macaroni art by a kindergartner.

Someone told me in one of the previous posts that if I was any good at writing, I would be able to absorb the costs of piracy. Sweet pea, in order to be able to absorb the costs of piracy, you have to sell books on the scale of Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King. And believe me, I’d hazard a guess none of them are happy about piracy and illegal downloads.

I’m not a Nora Roberts, but I’ve been known to tell a story people enjoy reading. I had to write a pitch letter recently, and was surprised to learn I had more street cred than I’d realized. I’ve been publishing M/M romance since 2010. The majority of my titles are through Dreamspinner Press, though I have self-published as well. All told, I have a total of 16 published stories at this time and am a PAN member of the RWA.

I was a finalist in the 2013, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards. The Boys of Summer won Best M/M Romance in the 2013 Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Awards. The Sixth Sense series was voted 2nd place in the 2014 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Mystery series, and 3rd place in the 2105 PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series.

Fool’s Gold was voted best M/M Romance in 2016 by the PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards. I was also voted one of the top ten M/M romance authors in 2016 by Gay Book Reviews.

I’m not saying this to brag. Lord, if you knew me, you’d know how much I’m squirming listing those achievements (and resisting mightily the urge to claim they are ‘only’ genre recognition and awards). What I’m trying to say is that, given the argument above, I’m not such a shabby writer that I deserve to be pirated to the extent that I can actually lose money on publishing a story.

But you know what? No one does. No author, no artist, no musician, no photographer–hell, not even your kindergartner putting his or her macaroni art up on your fridge.

Where in the world is Sarah Madison?

Where in the world is Sarah Madison?

You might be asking yourself that right about now–or maybe not. If you’re like me, sometimes the first time I notice someone has been absent is when they pop up to apologize for their absence–which then results in a flurry of guilt for not realizing before–please, don’t do that. It’s okay. I understand.

There have been reasons for the absence. Boring reasons that can be summed up with: life hit me hard and tumbled me into a well of depression. At the moment, I appear to be sitting on the ledge, contemplating pulling myself out and seeing what’s next. Part of that process appears to be reconsidering what Sarah Madison brings to the M/M romance table as a middle-aged cishet white woman.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure she does bring anything to the table that can’t better be told by someone with a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be a member of the GLBTQ community. I love writing. I fall in love with characters and want to tell their stories. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m the best one to tell them.

That said, it is my intention to bring the Sixth Sense series to a close–hopefully completing a draft for publication in 2019. I have other stories I’d love to tell, but I have to warn you, if I do, it will be a long, slow process to publishing. I’m not a fast writer these days. I’ve become self-critical to the point of hamstringing the process–that’s something else I need to work on.

But as we leave 2018 behind, I felt the need to poke my head out of the burrow and check the weather. For the first time in a long time, I scent hope in the air.

For all our sakes, I hope this is truly the case.

Here’s to a better 2019 for us all.

 

It’s a Halloween Sale! All Treats, no Tricks!

Hey! All my Dreamspinner titles are discounted 31% off for Halloween–now until Nov 1st! How can you resist that?

Fancy a little vampire/werewolf story? Check out Crying for the Moon–Alex Novik has an unusual dilemma–he wants to make a new existence for himself by leaving his vampire past behind. Along the way, he discovers the headaches of home ownership, becomes entangled in the problems of his werewolf friends, and tries to deny his attraction for his new, sexy neighbor next door. Loving Tate will draw him into Alex’s dangerous world, and Alex is torn between finding the relationship he’s always craved and keeping Tate safe. Release date July 22 2011. Winner of the Coffee Times Romance Recommended Read Award. August 2011 Recommended Read by Reviews by Jessewave. First Runner Up in the Love Romances and More’s Golden Rose Awards for Best Paranormal of 2011.

Or maybe FBI guys tangling with mysterious artifacts that convey unbelievable powers is more your thing–you can get the entire Sixth Sense series at a great price! The Sixth Sense series was awarded 2nd place for Best M/M Mystery Series in the 2014 PRG’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards, and third place for Best M/M Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series in the 2015 PRG’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards.

How about a reincarnation story? The Boys of Summer might be just the ticket!

David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches…and a secret crush on his hot, ex-Air Force pilot, Rick Sutton.

Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries, and a lack of food and water, make rescue imperative, but it takes an intensely vivid dream about the war to make David see that Rick is more than just a pilot to him. Will David gather his courage to confess his feelings to Rick—before it’s too late?  Finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards. Nominated Best Historical in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards. Selected as a Best Read in 2013 by Jessewave and a Top Pick Read by The Romance Reviews. Winner of Best M/M Romance in the 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards. Release date April 14. 2013.

Dreamspinner can accommodate whatever format you desire, and send titles to your Amazon address too. So grab this spooky deal while you can!

A Serious Question about POV

For some reason–one I do not question but am deeply grateful for–recently people have been popping in to tell me how much they love the Sixth Sense series. They’ve also been sharing their hopes that I will finish it–and it is my intention to do so.

Without belaboring the point, I have started several drafts of the next installment, Deal with the Devil. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t gotten past the first couple of chapters. Personal losses, subsequent depression, and a demanding day job have all been factors in my inability to move forward with the planned finale–as well as fears that no one will be interested after such a long delay–including my publisher.

At least I can lay to rest the worries about fans of the series. Your words of encouragment are a balm to a weary soul, thank you.

But recently, it occurred to me there may be another issue tripping me up right now: decidind which POV to write in.

The first two books were written in limited third: Jerry/Lee’s POV. This meant that if Jerry wasn’t in the scene, the audience didn’t see it. Much like the Harry Potter books–if Harry wasn’t in the scene, the action took place “offstage” as it were.
The the third book of the series, Truth and Consequences, was written in first person from “Lee’s” POV. I felt this was necessary because of the plot. Without spoiling anyone, the story simply worked best from that POV/perspective.
 
It had long been my plan to write the final book from both Lee’s and Flynn’s perspective–in part because I planned to separate them for part of the story, but also because I felt it was time to get John Flynn’s POV as well. Having changed POV partway through the series, I wasn’t too concerned about doing it again. But I’ve drafted two openings to Deal with the Devil, and to be honest, continuing to write from first person Lee’s POV feels more natural.
 
How important is it to you as a reader to get Flynn’s POV at this point? And out of curiosity, is first person POV a deal-breaker for you?
Please weigh in with your thoughts. I’d really like to know.

Take a Deep Breath. It will Be Okay.

It’s been an unusual year, to say the least.

Those who know me might realize I’ve been pretty quiet. I won’t go into details, but 2017 has been pretty rough on me. Suffice to say that you know it’s bad when someone’s personal life is so stressful and traumatic, it deadens the blow of watching your own democracy turn into a banana republic.

You know that scene in The Sound of Music where Christoper Plummer and Julie Andrews sing about how somewhere in their youth or childhood, they must have done something good in order to wind up together? Yeah, I keep wondering what I did that was bad to get this kind of karmic retribution. 🙂

I’ve written scarcely 2 K in the whole year. I was supposed to have the final installment of The Sixth Sense series finished and submitted in March of 2017, and it just didn’t happen. I’m so far behind on my deadlines I’m afraid no one will want to read it when I finally get it written–which of course makes it harder to sit down with the characters to tell their story.

I’ve also seriously considered giving up writing altogether. The stresses of the last year might have been extreme, but they aren’t going to change very much in the coming year. My ability to produce books on a rapid, timely basis isn’t likely to improve. And while I got a tremendous kick out of Wil Wheaton sharing my Sense of Entitlement post, it made me realize my real claim to fame might be having written a blog post that went viral rather than being an author. Face it. I’m a hobbyist with dreams of being able to retire on my writing and that’s never going to happen. And as long as I have a demanding day job, my ability to write will be limited to what I have the time and energy to do.

But maybe that’s okay.

I have a wonderful mare. Big, beautiful movement, magnificent presence–the kind of horse that made people stop and stare as you went past with her. But she’s nearly died three times due to colic, once having to have emergency surgery that put her out of the show circuit for over a year. My own work schedule meant that I could only get to a competition once or twice a year. But that was okay. Because for that one day, she got to show the world her potential. And I knew at home we were doing first level dressage and that she could clear a  4×4 oxer with ease. And while I never got to do all the things I wanted to do with her before I had to retire her, she is still alive. And I know how amazing she is.

It took me a long time to be comfortable with that. To recognize that was enough for us.  That given everything we’d overcome and survived, it was a bloody precious gift just to be able to walk out into pasture and see her lift her head and whicker at my arrival.

But I haven’t gotten there yet with the writing. I still feel that unless I’m producing a story a quarter (something that is never going to happen), no one will know I exist. No one will be excited for a new Sarah Madison story. At the same time, I also feel that disappearing for good would be no big loss. So yeah, giving it up has crossed my mind more than once this past year.

But maybe it’s okay that I write on my own schedule. I’d rather take the time to write a story I can be happy with than to try pumping out stories I don’t even enjoy creating. My life is too painful right now to add more stress to it by killing the one thing that has brought me joy. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how if you’re not cranking them out, there is something inherently wrong with your process and any story that is taking you too long to finish should be abandonned for one you can punch your way through. Maybe there is some merit in that. But I know when you run the pump while the creativity well is dry, you can burn up the motor.

Anyway, this is a long drawn-out way of saying that I was considering closing the door on writing. But the truth is, I’m not going to stop writing stories, so I might as well publish, right? It’s just going to have to be at my own pace.

And if you think that an encouraging word at the right time doesn’t make a difference, you’re wrong. I woke up this morning to over 20 notifications from Twitter. What the heck? I discovered that Dianne from It’s About The Book listed Unspeakable Words as one of the best books she’d read in 2017. You should check out the post. There’s a lovely review but I am also in some pretty exhalted company. 🙂

Maybe it will be like showing my horse. I might not achieve everything I want to in the time I have, but it’s a miracle just to be there.

I guess I should get back to work on that next Sixth Sense book, right?

Coming Soon to Audiobook: Fool’s Gold by Sarah Madison

Wow! I can’t believe the last time I posted to the website was back in March!

Looking back, I can see why. A lot of stuff is going on in my personal life right now–family crises, health issues, work stress… I’ve been keeping my head down low and trying to work on various projects but it’s been slow going.

The good news is that very soon I’ll be announcing the release of Fool’s Gold on Audible! This is my first audiobook ever and I am SO excited. I fell in love with Gary Furlong’s voice during the auditions for narrator and I’m sure you will too. With any luck, it will be released in August.

Fool’s Gold was voted best M/M Romance by the 2016 PGR’s Reviewers Choice Awards. The story is a love letter to my own sport, eventing, and I couldn’t be more pleased to share it with you in audio format. Stay tuned for more details on a release date!

In other good news, I’m working on the final installment of the Sixth Sense series, tentatively titled Deal with the Devil. I had intended to have it finished and submitted to Dreamspinner by March, but all those pesky life trauma things got in the way. It’s going slowly, but I am making forward progress, and hope to have it available for release sometime in 2018.

I’ve also been teaching myself to make promotional graphics and how to put together a newsletter. If you want to keep up with the latest from me (and I promise, it probably won’t be more often than once a quarter–no spammy newsletters from me!), then sign up for my newsletter here.

I look forward to being able to share with you an exact release date on the Fool’s Gold audiobook! Until then, I’ll keep writing.

Unspeakable Words: On Sale At Dreamspinner Press!

I’ve been so pleased with the relaunch of Unspeakable Words! It’s been getting some fabulous reviews, and is on Dreamspinner’s bestseller list. Best of all, right now it’s on sale! I’m not sure for how much longer, so be sure to grab a copy of this expanded version at a great price!

Here are some great reviews from LoveBytes, Sinfully Gay Book Romance Book Reviews, Joyfully Jay, GayBook Reviews, Diverse Reader, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, and Rainbow Book Reviews, just to name a few! (I feel like someone thanking people at the Academy Awards–I’m bound to leave someone out!)

I have a lot a blog posts out with this book tour, including interviews at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and Open Skye Book Reviews. I’ve also begun sharing about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy, part of my research for the Sixth Sense series. Do drop by Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate for more about Writer’s Police Academy, but also fantastic giveaways, and the latest on upcoming releases by some of your favorite authors! My April post will be about crime scene investigations and blood spatter, so come check it out. 🙂

It’s Here! Release Day for Unspeakable Words by Sarah Madison

Wow! It’s finally here! I am so excited to be able to share this with you–the brand new relaunch of Unspeakable Words and the Sixth Sense series! To start things off, I have a post explaining my decision to relaunch the series over at MM Goodbook Reviews, and I am chatting about when characters misbehave at GayBook Reviews. Tomorrow I’ll be over at Bayou Book Junkies, so do come and make the rounds with me!

There have been some excellent reviews already, including this delightful one from Debra at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews!

I’m off this weekend to a much needed retreat in the mountains: just me, the BF, the dogs, and a snow-dusted cabin. No internet, but a roaring fire in the hearth. I’ll be posting the first in a series about my experiences at Writer’s Police Academy (part of the research I did for this series) at Authors Speak at Rainbow’s Gate on March 12th, internet permitting. And there will be more in the Unspeakable Words relaunch tour, so stay tuned!

You can find the brand new Unspeakable Words at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, as well as some of your other favorite outlets. Find out more about the next installment in the series as well!