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

Cutting ties with Dreamspinner and the future of Sarah Madison Fiction

This has been a hard post to write. So much so, I’ve put off doing it time and again.

Earlier this month, I made the difficult decision to ask for a reversion of rights for my stories with Dreamspinner Press. The decision was made for a variety of reasons, not the least of which concerns my own struggle to continue writing MM romance.

Were it not for Dreamspinner Press taking a chance on me and publishing Unspeakable Words back in 2010, I doubt I would be a published author today. I can’t believe it’s been almost nine years to the day. But the truth of the matter is I haven’t subbed anything to DSP in years, and now seems to be the right time to end our association. It was not a decision I made lightly. I do not have any hard feelings toward DSP, just a sense of regret, the way one does when a chapter in your life closes.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be getting back all my DSP titles. The plan is to re-edit, re-cover (if needed) and re-publish, though I confess, that looms before me as a daunting task when I have so little spoons to work with these days. It is also a financial outlay that I can ill-afford and not likely to give me a huge ROI on books that have been out for years.There is a strong probability I will be putting some of these titles in KU, though that remains to be seen.

If I sound discouraged, I am. To be honest, I don’t know what this means for writing future books under the Sarah Madison name. I’ve been promising for years now I would finish the Sixth Sense series and give it closure, but as you can see, that hasn’t happened despite all my best intentions. And the dissolution of my relationship with DSP will probably slow that timetable down once again.

By 2020, it will have been ten years since the release of the first edition of Unspeakable Words. It would be nice to end the series within a decade! But I have to accept the fact I can’t make promises any more.

I’m not certain what this means for my writing in general. Publishing is a hard business, especially if I’m in the longest publishing drought of my life. Perhaps the answer is to try my hand at something new, a different genre, a different kind of storytelling. Perhaps the answer is to accept the closing of this door and call it done.

But I’m a storyteller at heart. Even if I stop publishing, I won’t stop writing. It may just be stories I write for my own amusement, but I’ll still keep writing.

My biggest apologies to the fans of the Sixth Sense series who have begged for the final installment. I promised and I haven’t delivered. I’d like to believe I’ll still get there–I want to give Lee and Flynn their ultimate HEA as much as you want to read it–but I’m running a few quarts low on faith these days.

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. 🙂

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?

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!

Unspeakable Words and all my titles on sale at Dreamspinner Press!

Woot! I just saw that all my Dreamspinner titles are on sale until March 5th in honor of the annual conference held by the press! That means you can grab not only any of my Dreamspinner titles for 25% off until March 5th, but you can also pre-order the expanded version of Unspeakable Words at the sale price as well!

I’m so excited to share with you the soon-to-be-released version of Unspeakable Words! Isn’t this cover fantastic? That smirky face and raised eyebrow is SO Flynn, it’s as though LC Chase read my mind when redesigning the covers for the Sixth Sense series!

There will be a book tour starting soon, so stay tuned!

Love is in the Air: Valentine’s Day Sale at Dreamspinner Press!

I don’t know about you, but I hated Valentine’s Day growing up.

I hated all the emphasis on being ‘chosen’ to be someone’s Valentine, and how the whole day was an exercise in humiliation for a introverted, homely child.

As a young adult, it felt like a comment on my attractiveness and desirability that I didn’t have someone special in my life to take me out to dinner or bring me flowers. And yet I still wanted those things very much. I wanted that tangible proof that not only was I loved, I was deemed worthy of love.

The first couple of times I was in a relationship as Valentine’s Day rolled around, I went all out: the romantic dinner, the fancy restaurant, the expensive (and sexy) dress. Chocolates, wine, flowers, and cards. The whole nine yards.

Now after having been in a committed relationship for nearly a decade, I can appreciate it not the day that matters, or the meal, or the bling. It’s the person who is sitting across the table from you. It’s the person holding your hand, or the friends taking you out for Galentine’s Day, or the cat in your lap and the dog at your feet. I love that people are taking what has always been for me a problematic celebration of ‘love’ and making it their own–redefining it for their needs.

 

 

 

As part of that celebration, Dreamspinner Press is having a store-wide sale: 25% off all titles until Feb 18th, and a flash sale of new releases today only! That means you can pre-order the newly revised version of Unspeakable Words at the sale price (release date March 10, 2017)–or perhaps you’d like a story of love, loss, and re-connection with The Boys of Summer.  Or maybe werewolves and vampires are your thing–in which case, check out the award-winning Crying for the Moon! Plenty to choose from, and not just my titles. Entering the DSP store is like opening the Potter family vault at Gringott’s. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!