In The Corpse Of 2012, The Fungal Seedpods Of 2013 Bloom Bright

The years pass like ships in the night. One pulling into harbor. The other drifting out to sea.

Of course, the way time is, 2012 will drift out to sea and hit the carcass of a frozen whale. It’ll punch a hole in the hull. Then the USS 2012 will take on slushy water and begin to sink. Its inhabitants will drop into the churn where they will all be summarily consumed by ICE SHARKS.

Point is, 2012 will soon be gone.

And 2013 will take its place.

Which means — time for the requisite looking backward to look forward post!

Truth is, 2012 has been one helluva year.

This is the year I really became that thing I always really wanted to be: a dude who gets to write novels for a living (aka, “a novelist,” or “an author,” or, “that bearded, pantsless recluse”). I’ve been a professional writer for, sheesh, almost 15 years now, and many of those years were spent as a full-time freelance writer. But this is the first year I can feel 100% comfortable tacking on “novelist” to the ol’ resume. And to do it full-time? To support my family?

Holy fucking wow.

This year alone, I published:

Blackbirds: in which snarky damaged psychic Miriam Black can see how you’re gonna die.

Mockingbird: AKA the continuing adventures of that snarky, angry psychic, Miriam Black.

Dinocalypse Now: two-fisted pulp featuring heroes, apes, Neanderthals, psychic dinosaurs.

Bait Dog: teen detective/vigilante Atlanta Burns solves a murder by way of a dog-fighting ring.

Bad Blood: an e-novella featuring the return of Coburn, a vampire in Zombieland.

Plus, got to help put together the supremely bad-ass Don’t Read This Book collection for Evil Hat, featuring some incredibly potent writer-fu.

The Miriam Black series really got a lot of attention and so far has sold well beyond my expectations. Then both Dinocalypse Now and Bait Dog were the product of two kickass Kickstarters that proved to me what a valuable asset crowdfunding will be to the creatives of the future (sorry: THE FUTURE; sounds better when you caps lock that shit).

Plus, 2012 is a year where I signed on for bevy of new books. Some already written.

I’ve got:

The Blue Blazes: In which criminal Underworld meets the mythic one.

The Cormorant: Miriam Black is back with a face full of murder and Mommy Issues.

Heartland, Book One: My “cornpunk” YA adventure novel (new title soon announced).

Heartland, Books Two & Three: THE CORNPUNK CONTINUES.

Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits: The gods are in exile on Earth! Hijinks ensue!

Beyond DinocalypseOur heroes trapped in a pulp-sodden psychosaur dystopia.

Dinocalypse Forever: Our heroes must travel to where — er, when — the psychosaurs began!

Harum Scarum: Atlanta Burns in, “Fear and Loathing in Dark Pennsyltucky.”

Holy hell, that’s a lot of books.

(Also: holy hell, it means my 2013 is going to be at near-psychotic levels of busy-ness.)

But, of course, it isn’t all about the books.

This site, terribleminds, is still going strong as an ox on bath salts — 2010 I had 438,000 views, 2011 saw that number jump to 1,474,000, and 2012 saw that number jump again to 2,650,000. (I mean, it’s no Scalzi’s Whatever, but whatever.) Plus, I got to do a redesign and get most of what I wanted out of it — all for a handful of stress-tangled man-hours and $45.00. I’m very happy with it and my hope is that you readers are, as well.

This year I also got to release both 500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer and 500 Ways To Tell A Better Story and both seemed to land well — particularly the latter, which contains a bunch of stuff I think really clicks. The writing books continue to sell nicely, many of them hopping in and out of the Top 20 books on writing at Amazon.

Life progresses. It progresses in a way I can find little fault with — it’s been a hard year for the world, I know, but honestly, I’ve been really fortunate on a personal level. I hate to use the term “blessed,” because I’ve no idea who is doing the blessing (Jesus? Shiva? The Large Hadron Collider?), and I also like to think I’ve earned some of the fortune, but there’s no denying that life and luck have been kind to me even when I’ve had no hand in it.

We got a new puppy.

I went to WorldCon, met a bunch of great people — a list of names too endless to recount, but c’mon, Adam Christopher, Gwenda Bond, Laura Lam, Kim Curran, Mike Underwood, Saladin Ahmed, Myke Cole, LA Gilman, Elizabeth Bear, Mur Lafferty, Ramez Naam, Wes Chu, Seanan McGuire, so many inspiring minds that really put more coal in the creative furnace. Plus, I reconnected with an old friend while there. FTMFW.

I spoke at the very lovely and highly-recommended Crossroads Conference in Macon, Georgia. (Macon’s tagline is, “It’s Hotter Here,” which I thought was trademarked for Hell, but apparently Macon snatched it up first.) New friendships made: Delilah (aka “Derlerlah”) Dawson, Jeremy Foshee, Chris Horne, Paul Barrett, Matt Jackson.

I also got to speak at both Storyworld and Writer’s Digest West in Los Angeles. Read at Noir at the Bar with a handful of talented blokes. Got to meet JC Hutchins, Johnny Shaw, Eric Beetner, Greg Bardsley, Caitlin Burns, Jay Bushman, again another endless list of talented humans. (And I was in LA in April, too, for the Blackbirds launch, where I got to finally meet Sabrina Ogden and Priscilla Spencer! Seriously, I know some of the most awesomest people.)

And 2013 promises some new and interesting things, too — something-something film stuff, something-something international travel, something-something new writing book (with physical copies!), something-something doom-laser robot that will destroy the Eastern Seaboard with a transmedia boombox made of human corpses.

You know. THE USUAL.

Thanks to all you crazy kids for hanging around here and listening to me rant. Hope you see fit to keep coming back in the new year, to keep reading my bloggerel, and maybe checking out my books, too. I only get to do what I do because of you fine people out there in Internetsville (aka “Pornopolis”). We creators are only as good as the audience that carries us, as the friends who support us, as the family members who love us.

Oh, and speaking of family:

Let’s finish up with a brand new rockin’-out B-Dub video:


  • Your title reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about as the new year approaches. Much of 2012 had its roots in 2011. Much of what’s going to happen in 2013 has already started in 2012. It’s easy to get impatient and ask why things aren’t happening NOW, but in fact, they are. They’re just in progress.

    It’s easier to celebrate the finish line than all the steps in between there and the start, but it’s the steps in between that get you to the finish.

    • “Your title reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about as the new year approaches. Much of 2012 had its roots in 2011. Much of what’s going to happen in 2013 has already started in 2012. It’s easy to get impatient and ask why things aren’t happening NOW, but in fact, they are. They’re just in progress.”

      A rocking point, Paul!

      — c.

  • That is a rather impressive list of books!

    How do you balance drafting and editing? I know part of it depends on silly things like deadlines, but I was wondering how much time you devote to writing versus editing?

    I’m about done with a first draft and I was going to move on to editing, but I know when I have contracts I can’t just do one book at a time, that writers are often going between two (or more) different projects on any given day. I’ve never seen a schedule of how that actually works out though.

    Happy holidays and we’ll see you in the new year!

    • Drafting and editing is tricky — I tend to write new in the morning and edit in the afternoon. More time toward writing because that, overall, requires more time for me!

      Have a happy!

      — c.

  • Sounds like an awesome 2012 for you! I envy your list of awesomeness, both of activities and acquaintances. Congrats and good luck for the next year!

    My 2012 has been a bit of a clusterfuck, but I think I’ve come out of it with some decent ideas about how to make 2013 rock way harder than any year has rocked heretofore, so perhaps the awfulness of the past year is made up for in that way.

  • Success is great, and after working for so many years…a wonderful thing…and definitely earned because creating anything of merit is incredibly hard work. I am happy for you, as your writing books contain some of the best advice I have stumbled upon in my lame and confused efforts to write a novel (for its own sake, because I want to give shape to the story in my head, just to see if I can, like climbing Mt Everest – this is not about envisioning a future of making money at writing. I was an art major 30 years ago, and have always lived below the poverty line because I’ve always behaved as though nothing mattered beyond what had intrinsic value for me in the moment. Hey kids! Don’t be like me.) I get annoyed by “advice” from pretentious assholes who are all up in their fancy attitude about how they’re “professionals” and everyone who’s beginning or a god-forbid hobbyist is a pathetic wannabe used kleenex who doesn’t deserve to exist in the world alongside their lofty pontificating greatness, etc. They are boring, presumptuous (in that they don’t know why someone is writing), and ultimately screwing themselves because no one’s should have to pay for that shit. Like this crazy “writer’s group” I went to once for about an hour? Where on top of the snotty patronizing condescending snide bullshit they all reveled in, I noticed that their writing actually kind of sucked? Who was kidding who there? You look good by coming across as though you want to be helpful…and then actually being helpful. Thank you. As for being “blessed,” the kingdom of sparkly whatever makes the mundane appear miraculous? That comes from inside. Namaste.

  • Regarding your stuff: 2012 was awesome for me because I discovered your writing books! Which in turn inspired me (kicked my ass) to actually start writing something I liked and didn’t delete after the first chapter. I may actually have something decent when I’m done, and thanks to you, Mr. Wendig, I’m going to finish mah shit!

    I read all your writing books, Shotgun Gravy (really liked), Bait Dog (difficult and I admit I skipped anything with dogs getting hurt but I did like the rest of it), and I’m about a 1/3 into Blackbirds (which I really like). I love your site, and tend to stalk you on Twitter, but I’d never tell YOU that. Don’t wanna overstate it, it’s not like you’re my “hero” or anything, but you’re definitely my writing guru.

    In other news, DAMN that kid can dance! Go Bdub!

  • The Bdub video so reminds me of my Tank. A little headbanger in the works there. Such a personality!

    I’m with Paul above. It’s a progress. Today, every day, my word-nerding lays the foundation for the next step up.

    And your work list made me audibly gasp and shake my head in wonder and amazement, as well consider how I would juggle all that. I wish you the best.

    Here’s to the best year yet. 2013, come here darling, let me tell you a story.

  • Thanks for everything you do – the “bloggerel” and the ranting and the books… oh yes, and for sharing this space and filling it with your advice and general word-awesomeness. Congratulations on your successes in 2012 and I’m looking forward to seeing what you get up to in 2013!

  • Congrats on your stupendous success last year, Chuck. Love Bdub’s rocking video!

    “Happiness is too many things these days for anyone to wish it on anyone lightly. So let’s just wish each other a bileless New Year and leave it at that.”
    Judith Crist


  • Also wanted to say that if you were ever inspired to address the topic of structural scaffolding, I would read a book like that. Most people say “plot” and I think that means “what the story is about” as in “used car salesman murders boss, gets divorced” or whatnot…but I am struggling with what appears to be more of architectural problem. When painting, you can step back, see the whole image on the canvas, assess how the parts fit together, how they relate, what to bring out, what to play down, and there’s a kind of push and pull that takes place as you progress, but you always know what you have because all of it is right in front of your face at once. Writing is harder because it’s linear, and the Big Picture needs to be an experience that unfolds over time. How to control the shape of the story and orchestrate the reader’s experience?

    Can’t find much coherent advice about this. There’s a lot out there on imagery. I can spew out reams and make reasonably pretty sentences and conjure an atmosphere, which is what made me think I could write a book in the first place – as in, oh, writing a novel will just be like cranking out a hundred 1000-word essays. Not. There’s plenty of advice out there offering a formula for generating an outline, but that stuff is too general, too abstract, like “put the conflict here, and the action there, and the resolution over here, blah blah.” Doesn’t work. Too vague.

    I’ve got 60,000 words, oodles of scenes for a specific story. None of it quite fits together, much of it may or may not be essential, and I’m stuck because I don’t know how to force this unwieldy behemoth into a shape that does what I want it to do when I want it to do that and also makes sense. Like when you’ve got a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle and someone dumps them out on the table and walks off with the box before you see the picture of what it’s supposed to look like when it’s done.

    One person said to put each scene on a file card, shuffle the cards, assemble in logical progression. It has taken me way too long to learn that how words reach the page is the last thing that needs attention, that structure has to come first, so that I’m not wasting my time fixing things that will have to be changed later or wandering in a wilderness of ideas wondering where the fuck I’m going or finding gigantic holes or contradictions that make half of it useless. Being able to get a handle on broad spectrum organization would save – oops, too late – an enormous amount of time, the way deciding on a visual image and sketching out a grid and outlines on a panel means you know where to put the paint before you start, you’re not just mixing and swirling the paint around at random hoping for effect (contrary to what you may have heard about artistic inspiration.)

    Either most writers are shitty at teaching structure because it’s obvious to them, or they’re doing it insider’s language I don’t understand. Drawing isn’t magic. Graphic design is not magic. There are rules, methods, procedures. Anyone can learn them. A teacher who says making art is about natural talent has forgotten there was a time when he didn’t know what he knows, that he had to learn how to see, how to think about solving visual problems, how to use the materials, which materials will produce a certain type of result. Maybe he does things intuitively without ever having deconstructed the process, but that doesn’t mean there is no process, or that it can’t be articulated by someone who’s taken the time to analyze it. There are reasons why some things work and others don’t. Constructing a story must be the same way. It would suck to have to reinvent the whole fucking thing by myself, but I will if I have to.

    Can anyone tell me what is a good resource in non-academic language that is not somebody’s formula for how all main characters should drive a shitty car or get married on Tuesdays, that addresses in basic, brass-tacks terms how to solve the how-do-I-organize-this-crap problem?

    • Sara, you sound like me: a very analytical writer. Chuck’s structure posts are great (especially the 25 list because it feels manageable). I have three other resources I fall back on repeatedly. 1. Larry Brooks’ StoryFix website and Story Structure how-to book; 2. Jack Bickham’s Scene & Structure which has a “scenic master plot” at the end that “tells you” what happens in each chapter (it’s doesn’t really, obviously, but it can help you see what goes where in a clean way); lastly, 3. Robert McKee’s big ol’ book, Story: Substance, Structure & Style, because of its blimp-like bloated-but-soaring inspirational effect. [Warning to pantsers: Stay away from those books. They will give you hives.]

      Hopefully you got a good book store gift certificate 🙂 Good luck!

      P.S. I know it can be frustrating, but don’t discount the magic.

    • Chuck DOES have several very insightful posts on structure. I personally enjoy the post “The House That Structure Built”. You can also find some nuggets on structure in his “25 Things” posts about plot as well.

      I think the reason why you’re having trouble with posts that say they address structure but mostly talk about plot is the two are very much related (not to sound obvious). It’s hard to talk about structure without talking about plot in a general way. While you CAN use certain tenants of structure (like, say, the Hero’s Journey) not every single book has to have it. I can write a book and not include “Dark Night of the Soul” and it wouldn’t be wrong. It’s very subjective.

      I ran into the same problem you have, where I have this 80K first draft, and everything’s going sideways. I DID have structure “tent poles” worked out before I started writing, but the first draft has seen some major changes, so it’s all messed up now. The best thing I think you can do is finish the book, and then look at how structure fits over the events.

      Some of the resources I’ve used for structure are:

      Janice Hardy’s blog The Other Side of the Story. There’s a comprehensive search bar on the side and you can search by type of blog post you’re looking for. Characters, Plot, Structure, etc. She has tons of very helpful posts.

      Blake Synder’s Save the Cat. It’s for screenwriters, but most of it is applicable to novelists as well. My friend Elizabeth Davis has even gone so far as made an excel spreadsheet for the Save the Cat structure points. Just Google “Save the Cat beat sheet Elizabeth Davis.” Her blog is called Liz Writes Books. You can download the beat sheet and input the number of pages your book has. It will tell you what page number(s) the tent pole moments should occur. I still recommend getting the book though, because Synder explains the moments in depth.

      James Scott Bell “Plot and Structure”. Lots of good info about the basics of structure and how your plot relates to it.

      I also second Jessa’s recommendations. Scene and Sequel by Jack Bickham is very dense but full of writerly goodness.

      I would start with the free websites first, and then when you feel like spending some money, I would get James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure first. It’s going to give you more bang for your buck, and he talks about structure in a very non-specific way, so you have a better chance of not feeling like you have to force every book to be a Hero’s Journey.

  • Wow. From a financial and writing point of view, your 2012 was amazing. Is someone trying to write more books than James Patterson? 🙂

    When you feel a book though, I mean when you really FEEL it, when your characters feel like some of your best friends and you just want to stay and wait where their crazy little minds will take you, then you can accomplish a whole lot. I love it when you find a character ghat you could write forever about, for you are deeply interested in them, and the only thing that can stop you from writing is scheduling, commitments, and the occasional emergency.

    After all, it’s things like that that drives us writers to finish our shit. 🙂

  • Congratulations on your amazing year, Chuck. You are an inspiration to me, as I write the word babies. I don’t really stand outside your house or burn things I find in your trash.


  • I need more Miriam. Like, NOW. I read Blackbirds a few days ago and just finished Mockingbirds and…MOAR I NEED MOAR hurry please 🙂

    I really loved both of them, is what I’m trying to say. I thought Mockingbirds was even better than Blackbirds, and can’t wait to read The Cormorant!

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