Will There Ever Be A Conclusion to The Sixth Sense Series?

I’m going to be completely honest here. I know it’s been four years since Truth and Consequences was released, the third book in the Sixth Sense series. I know I left things on a bit of a cliffhanger, something I didn’t foresee being a problem because I was working on the final installment, Deal with the Devil. I had every intention of finishing that book and the series in 2017. But several things happened all at the same time, all of which impacted my ability to write.

I had multiple deaths and losses in the family. They began in 2017 and continued well into 2018. Communities I relied on for support closed. Our current administration here in the US seems hell-bent (and I don’t use that term lightly) on destroying or reversing all gains made in civil rights, healthcare, and environmental protections in the last fifty years, threatening everything I believe in and those I love. The planet is on fire and our long-term prognosis is grim. My health took a beating and I fell into a well of chronic pain and depression.

It all seemed so pointless, you know?

But there was one other factor I haven’t mentioned, and that was the fact my spidey senses were tingling over the situation at Dreamspinner Press. Royalty statements, and then payments themselves started coming later and later, always with plausible excuses until you started compiling them all. How could so many things conspire to prevent a business from, well, doing business? Hurricanes, software issues, bank problems, delays getting checks in the mail, delays in the server making the switch to direct deposits, difficulties in the transition from quarterly to monthly payments… I confess, I was mired in my own issues and chose to ignore the elephant in the room, especially since I wasn’t actively writing for them. But I heard whisperings and rumblings behind the scenes. Someone I knew who is a brilliant author subbed to DSP, and was treated–in my opinion–very shabbily in a manner that seemed intended to put her off publishing altogether. (Shortly after that, DSP closed to open submissions, instead concentrating only on specific lines within their press) I’d had my own battle royale when assigned a new editor with my last DSP book, who seemed to have merely run my manuscript through an editing program demanding changes both arbitrary and without adding meaning or clarity to the story. I ended up requesting assignment to another editor.

And subconsciously at first, these events added to my feeling I couldn’t finish the Sixth Sense series. Later, when I began thinking about writing and publishing Deal with the Devil on my own, I realized Dreamspinner had first right of refusal to the characters, and so again, my motivation to complete the series withered on the vine.

Then the payments ceased to come altogether. I’ve received one payment from DSP in all of 2019. In October, I made the difficult decision to pull my titles from Dreamspinner Press and take back the rights to my stories. Dreamspinner gave me my first shot at being a published author. I owed them a lot. But they are also a business, and they violated their end of the contract with me. And the last thing I wanted was for them to declare bankruptcy holding the rights to my titles, which would then become assets in settling their debts.

It’s not just me. You should read this Publisher’s Weekly article.

I’ll be blunt: I didn’t have the spoons to repackage and self-publish my backlist. I’d done a little self-publishing before, but these books needed re-editing and to have the specialized formatting stripped out. Some needed new covers. I didn’t have the funds or the juice to do all this, and yet I hated the thought of all those years of work just lying on my hard drive with nothing to show for it. So I did the work, got the titles back up, fought with the third party vendors still hosting my stories to TAKE THEM DOWN, and got them into Kindle Unlimited for the first time ever.

And now, am discovering they are selling. Better than they had in DSP’s hands for the last few years.

Slowly my mood toward these stories–and my writing in general–has begun to change. I’m no longer sad over my personal losses, and terrified of the direction this country is going in. I’m no longer sad that Dreamspinner is having trouble and looks to be in danger of closing.

I’m mad. Pissed off. Livid.

And you know what? I’m not going to let depression, or DSP, or anything else thwart me from finishing this series. It may not be the best thing I ever write, and I can’t promise when it will be released but by God, I will finish Deal with the Devil and give closure to the Sixth Sense series.

I will not go down without a fight.

 

Sarah Madison Titles are now in KU!

Wow! I hardly know how to announce this except to get right to the point: for the first time EVER nearly all of my works are now available in KU! That’s right, you heard me–almost everything I’ve written: The award-winning Fool’s Gold and The Boys of Summer, The Sixth Sense series, and Holiday House Swap are all available in Kindle Unlimited.

You can find the links on Amazon here.

I’d love it if you could spread the word!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boys of Summer and the Sixth Sense series now available on Amazon

Just a brief update: I’ve got The Boys of Summer and the Sixth Sense series back up for sale on Amazon–at only $3.99 if you know someone who has been waiting patiently for a reduced price!

I’d appreciate help in getting the word out–also, if you notice something wrong with the files, please, PLEASE let me know. I’ve only done a little self-publishing, and it doesn’t come easily to me yet. If I’ve screwed up, I want to fix it!

Also, for some reason, the digital versions of these stories aren’t showing up on my author page on Amazon, only the print copies. I’m trying to get Amazon to fix it, though!

Other titles to follow.

The Boys of Summer

The Sixth Sense Series


Unspeakable Words

 

Walk A Mile

Truth and Consequences

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. 🙂

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.

More Stellar Reviews for Holiday House Swap: Book Tour & Giveaway!

Are you guys ready for the holidays yet? I’m nowhere close to being ready! I’ve still got some shopping to do, and some holiday prep as well.

blog-hop-graphicIf you’re here looking for the link to Divine Promotions Christmas Blog Hop–click on the link. Great memories, tasty recipes, and some fantastic prizes–go check them out!

Looking for that list of holiday stories past and present I compiled? The link is here. If you’re an author with a holiday story, feel free to leave your link in the comments there!

Fool'sGold-400x600Did you hear that Fool’s Gold and Truth & Consequences both came in as Runners Up in their categories in the 2016 Rainbow Awards? To celebrate, for a limited time you can grab a copy of Fool’s Gold for only 99 cents on Amazon and All Romance ebooks.

I’m also up for Author of the Year over at Gay Book Reviews! I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, but it’s a great honor just to be on the same page with the greats in this genre. If you’d like to vote for me, the link is here. Authors are listed in alphabetical order by first name and you can vote once a day until the polls close.

holidayhouseswapfs_v2But if you’re here because the title of the post drew you in, yes, I have received some very nice reviews for Holiday House Swap! Do check them out and enter the Rafflecopter giveway as part of the tour!

REVIEWS

Have at it–and have fun!

Have the Guts to Gut Your Story

frustrated-writerWell, it’s November, which means almost everyone I know is doing NaNoWrMo–the challenge to write a 50 K novel in 30 days. At least, it seems that everyone I know is doing it, based on the way my social media is exploding with word counts and updates, as well as posts on NaNo. Not me. I applaud anyone who does NaNo, I love the idea of having that network of support pushing you to write some every day. It *is* the best way to complete a story. But it doesn’t work for me. I don’t mean the part about working on your story a little bit every day–that is good advice and the best way I know to stay connected–and committed–to the story at hand. No, for me, the hard part about NaNo is the stricture that you not go back and self-edit, that you move ahead with the story as written each day. No massaging of text or tweaking the previously written material.

This is so much the antithesis of how I write that the one and only time I attempted NaNo, it sent me in to my first (and worst) case of writer’s block. NOT the intention of the challenge, I suspect. For me there’s a fine balance between moving forward and making sure your story has a strong enough foundation to support it.

Siege_of_Peking,_Boxer_RebellionThat’s the problem I’m having with my current WIP. I’m a good enough carpenter to know when something is off-kilter and out of balance, and yet I’ve been struggling for the better part of the last six months to make this story work as written because Jeez Louise, it’s sitting at 45 K, which means it’s halfway done. To stop now and have to go back to pull down walls because the floor isn’t level? Argh! Surely that can be overlooked, right? No one will notice. To say I’m at the halfway point is arbitrary anyway. There’s no set story-length. All those ‘rules’ of story-telling were created by the publishing industry in order to create a cost-effective and marketable printed book. All bets are off in the digital era, right? I don’t need your stinkin’ rules!

Um, no. It doesn’t quite work that way. In fact, the reason I’ve been struggling with this story for so long now is I can feel that the balance is off. I know in my gut that it’s wrong and I can’t keep forging ahead in the hope that it will somehow come out right in the end. In fact, the further out you go from a crooked starting point, the worse the deviation from the correct path becomes. And the last thing I want to do is pull down an entire house because there’s a serious crack in the foundation. Much better to solve the problem now, even if it means gutting a good bit of the existing work.

Yeah. Because I’m looking at having to cut about 15 K of extraneous story to get back to the structure of the thing and make it right. And ouch. That hurts. It hurts because some of those scenes are fun, and we all need fun in our lives. It hurts because we’ve been trained to think of word counts as the ultimate sign of a day’s progress, and yikes–this is like back-tracking several weeks for me.

But word counts are NOT the end-all and be-all of writing. To strain the metaphor further, at the end of the construction, what we want is a solid, sturdily-built house that will hold up for the next thirty or forty years–longer if we’re really lucky. And while the ‘rules’ of storytelling should be somewhat fluid, in that we shouldn’t wed ourselves to formulaic guidelines simply because that’s how it has always been done, most of us recognize when a story is off-balance. We know it because we read a LOT and we know what feels right. We know the difference between good storytelling and bad. You shouldn’t ignore that inner writer’s instinct that tells you when something isn’t working.

crumpleI’m not talking about that point in the story (and we all reach it) where you’re convinced you’re holding a sack of crap and nothing in the universe can transmute it into anything else. For me, that’s usually the 3/4 mark of any story, the point at which the writing becomes hard, when I’m certain I’m an idiot and there’s no hope for the story. No. I’m not talking about that. We need to learn our own writing cycles and when to ignore the routine run-of-the-mill crippling self-doubt. This is far more subtle. It’s sensing that an engine is running at less-than-optimum efficiency. It’s noticing that the floor is warped and things tend to roll to the right. It’s the certain knowledge that if you put a level to your story, the bubble wouldn’t be in the center.

A shoddy contractor would be tempted to hide this fact before it became apparent to everyone else. That’s a mistake. Because if it is apparent to you as the author, it sure as hell will be apparent to the reader. The longer you plug away at an inherently flawed story without fixing the underlying problem, the harder the edits will be too. And that, in a nutshell, is my problem with NaNo. Sometimes it’s smarter to stop what you’re doing and fix the problem before you cover it up with brilliant work that will only have to be torn down again. It’s easier to write a clean copy the first time than to repair a damaged one.

So don’t feel bad if NaNo is not for you. And don’t be afraid to follow your gut instincts and gut a story that isn’t working out. In the end, the revised story will be the better for your efforts. You’ll see.

In other news, Truth and Consequences was listed as an October Recommended Read by Prism Book Alliance, and there’s a giveaway going on at their page. Truth and Consequences has received stellar reviews from Rainbow Book Reviews and the Paranormal Romance Guild, among others, which just makes my heart sing.

Looking ahead to next month, The Boys of Summer will be re-released as a revised version Dec 21, so Merry Christmas to everyone!

 

Frenzied, Frazzled, but Still Having Fun: the Truth and Consequences Book Tour continues!

T&C spotlightI confess, I’ve fallen down on the job a bit here with the book tour… thankfully, the tour took a brief hiatus over the weekend, so perhaps I can catch up now!

Truth and Consequences is climbing the bestseller charts, and I’ve been delighted by its reception! Readers are emailing me, wanting to know more about the series and when they can expect the next installment–sadly, it will not be next week, as some people have hoped! 🙂 What I can tell you is that there will be more from Jerry Lee and John–and yes, we will be dealing with the Grimm Fairy Tale killer at long last–as well as John’s nemesis, who possesses the same powers he does, only he uses them for evil.

I also have plans to write more in the Crying for the Moon universe–Nick and Peter are begging for their backstory, and Viktor is not yet done with Alex and Tate, either! I’ve also got a Regency in the works, as well as contemporary romance set in the exciting world of sport horses and eventing–and in December, I’ll be re-releasing a revised version of The Boys of Summer! Such happy-making plans. The only problem is finding the time to write.

Branch ManagerThis past weekend was a good example. I trapped, neutered, and vaccinated the feral tom that has been hanging around picking fights with the other porch cats. The heavy rains and early leaf fall produced a bumper crop of mushrooms in the yard–and I caught one of the dogs eating a toxic Aminita species, so I had to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal. I’m trying to sell a house, deal with an insurance claim, cover barn duty for friends out of town dealing with their own family crises, field emergency calls, and put in a full day’s work. I might have been a bit cranky last night when I finally got home!

Still, I’d rather have tons of ideas and little time to write than all the time in the word but I stared a blinking cursor, not knowing what to say next! So be patient with me–I’m writing as fast as I can! Hopefully you’ll get new stories to read in a timely fashion. The very fact people are excited about the next one coming out just makes my day. You guys rock!

Here’s my tour schedule if you’d like to join in and check out the fun! Be sure to enter the giveaway too!

Tour Dates & Stops:

14-Oct: VWFOhMy!, The Blogger Girls, MM Good Book Reviews

15-Oct: Jessie G. Books, Divine Magazine, Lee Brazil

16-Oct: Iyana Jenna, Three Books Over The Rainbow, KathyMac Reviews

19-Oct: Kimi-Chan, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

20-Oct: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Emotion in Motion, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

21-Oct: Full Moon Dreaming, Happily Ever Chapter

22-Oct: The Hat Party, Bayou Book Junkie

23-Oct: Hearts on Fire, Love Bytes, My Fiction Nook

26-Oct: BFD Book Blog

27-Oct: Molly Lolly, Inked Rainbow Reads, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings 

Truth and Consequences by Sarah Madison: The Fun Continues!

T&C spotlightGood morning, everyone!

Truth and Consequences (Sixth Sense series book 3) was launched yesterday, and we embarked on our book tour!

Today, we have stops at Jessie G. Books, Divine Magazine, and a rather racy interview on Lee Brazil‘s site! Do drop by and find out more about Jerry Lee and John’s planned adventures–be sure to enter the giveaway too!

 

While you’re at it, check out the lovely review for Truth and Consequences at Divine Magazine as well!

For the full tour schedule, check out the fabulous list below!

Tour Dates & Stops:

14-Oct: VWFOhMy!, The Blogger Girls, MM Good Book Reviews

15-Oct: Jessie G. Books, Divine Magazine, Lee Brazil

16-Oct: Iyana Jenna, Three Books Over The Rainbow, KathyMac Reviews

19-Oct: Kimi-Chan, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

20-Oct: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat, Emotion in Motion, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

21-Oct: Full Moon Dreaming, Happily Ever Chapter

22-Oct: The Hat Party, Bayou Book Junkie

23-Oct: Hearts on Fire, Love Bytes, My Fiction Nook

26-Oct: BFD Book Blog

27-Oct: Molly Lolly, Inked Rainbow Reads, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings 

WillPride_1

 

Release Day and Book Tour for Truth and Consequences by Sarah Madison!

T&C bannerIf you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited right now. Today is the release day for Truth and Consequences (Sixth Sense series, Book 3) and the launch of a two week book tour! I don’t know about you, but it feels like I’ve been waiting forever for this book to be released! But the day is finally here, and I can’t wait to share this story with you!

Here is the schedule, if you’d like to join in the fun!

T&C Schedule

 

 

 

I’ve got three stops today: Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My!, The Blogger Girls, and MM Good Book Reviews! Drop by and leave a comment. I’ll be giving away a free copy of Unspeakable Words (or if you have that already, something from my backlist).