The Temporal Turnstile: Looking Back To Look Forward

The year is nearly complete.

With a brand new year ready to grow in its corpse.

Ah. Looking back, looking back. No regrets. Not much purpose. I don’t truck with regret. It offers me little. Regret is one of those vestigial emotions — it’s just a hanger-on, like a dingleberry or a hardened booger. Recognizing problems and moving forward is one thing, but clinging to the driftwood of your prior wreckage is just a worthless endeavor.

Swim forward or drown and all that.

So, 2013, then.

Been a great year, ultimately. My wife disentangled from her own professional life, leaving my writing career as the only provider of income for der Wendighaus, which is awesome in the truest sense of the word. Our toddler has grown in leaps and bounds and is now an actual human with increasing wants and needs and opinions. And also the occasional inexplicable tantrum which manifests like a tornado — by the time it’s there, it’s too late to get out of its way so all you can do is run to the basement and wait it out.

I traveled a lot. I went to Australia. I met phenomenal creative humans there — people I dare call friends as well as cohorts in this creative life. I fought an army of koalas with nothing but my fists and a pair of dirty underwear. I rode a cassowary. I did epic karaoke. You know. The usual.

I dunno. Life blurs. I’m like, “I know things happened?”

In 2013, I released the following books:

The Blue Blazes (the criminal underworld meets the mythic underworld!).

Unclean Spirits (the gods have fallen to earth and one man seeks vengeance against them!)

Beyond Dinocalypse (far-flung psychic dinosaur dystopia and the pulp heroes that battle there!)

Under the Empyrean Sky (oppressed dustbowl teens in a cornpunk future fight for love!)

The Kick-Ass Writer (1001 nuggets of boot-on-your-neck writing advice!).

I released a new Miriam Black short story, “Birds of Paradise” in the mystery and crime collection called Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble.

I also put out my first (and ideally not my last) comic: a six-page pulp-action adventure starring occult adventurer Amanda Wynne: “Shackleton’s Hooch.”

And I’m working on my first serialized story — “The Forever Endeavor,” presently in the middle of its run at Fireside Fiction Company.

I wrote a buncha stuff this year, too.

I wrote Beyond Dinocalypse, which as noted, released this year.

I wrote Heartland, Book Two: Blightborn.

I wrote The Cormorant, the third Miriam Black novel.

I wrote a thing called The Nail — a horror novel I don’t know what to do with, yet. It needs a lot of work but I’m not sure exactly which direction to take it — lot of options. It’s kind of a keystone piece for me and ties together a lot of the mythologies of my many stories (you’ll find some of that too in “The Forever Endeavor,” actually, if you pay attention).

I wrote another YA thing I can’t talk about.

I co-wrote what I hope is a killer comic pitch with friend and fellow madman Adam Christopher.

And I wrote another novel-flavored thing I can’t talk about. (But may be able to soon…)

Plus, I blogged here every week.

All told, I think I wrote about –

*does some loose calculations*

*uses fingers, toes, nipples, antennae*

390,000 words of new fiction.

And about, mmm, conservatively, 200,000 words here at the blog.

A pleasing quantity. I cannot speak for the quality, sadly. But I’m hopeful!

In 2014… whew, yeah, wow.

I’ve got a lot of work to do.

I’ve got four novels to write in the next 10 months or so. /panic

I believe I’ll have a script to write, too, but I can’t say anything about that yet.

Plus, soon will be some Big Awesome Stuff announced. Some book-flavored news. Hopefully a comic thing. Maybe some news about a film or TV deal about one of my book series…

I’ve got some books landing on shelves in the next year, too:

The Cormorant releases very, very soon (January 1st!). Worth noting I’ll be launching that book at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn on January 8th.

Summer will bring Blightborn, the second Heartland book. With that, if you pre-order, you’ll see a new Gwennie short story, “The Wind Has Teeth Tonight.” I’m actually really excited for Blightborn to release. It’s much bigger and sprawlier (*not a word) than Under the Empyrean Sky. Expands the world greatly. Ups the stakes. Was a great deal of fun to write.

Sometime soon you’ll also see the retitled and reworked YA launch of heroine Atlanta Burns in — drum roll please — a book simply titled: Atlanta Burns.

Plus, maybe a few other surprises. Giggle-snort-blush.

I’ll be traveling a lot, too. I’ll put up a more official schedule in the next week or two but I’ll be at Pike’s Peak Writing Conference, Phoenix Comic-Con, the Tucson Book Fest, and more.

So, there it is. That’s all she wrote.

How was your 2013?

How’s 2014 looking?


  • Wow indeed!

    During this year, you – my good friend – taught me how to write Flash Fiction and also taught me how to scare the shit out of my friends (old and new alike). Also, with all the flash fiction here, I’ve decided to put the wonderful stories we’ve shared here into a book of flash fiction (I’ll put a note in the beginning saying it was from this blog and your prompts, so you’ll get mention in the beginning of it, Chuck! :D ).

    I’m finishing up ‘Fry Nelson: Bounty Hunter: Book 3′ … it’s a trilogy of sci-fi action… and I love it! I’ve been working on this book for almost 5 years and have loved every single, gross’n’gory, explosive minute of it – along with the hot’n’heavy sex scenes too! :D Can’t dismiss them!

    While I’ve been working on my word craft here, I’ve been working on my art/craft offline… yep, I opened a business called Crafty Pegs on Facebook (just search for those two words back there and my pic is of a green and gold polka-dot peg)… I do get the best ideas while I’m painting those tiny little things… dunno how, but I do.

    Next year???? I’m trying not to think that far ahead. I’m a right now person… not a future person… and not a past person (yeah, okay, ‘Pork Chop Night’ dug into my past with the abuse and violence, but you said to create a horrible Dad… and I did)…

    I’m looking forward to seeing what we all create next year, Chuck!

    Oh, yeah… I’ve bought one of your ‘Certified Penmonkey’ mugs… in hunter green! I was told this morning via e-mail that it’s on its way to me today! :D Yay! :D

  • Hmmm, in October 2013 I signed a contract with Mondrijan in Ljubljana for my memoir of their favorite rock star and our friendship. Culture clash kind of thing, but funny. I’ll have a book come out in Slovenia (August 2014) and I won’t be able to read it.

    And I have two books awaiting rewrites, and a worm farm to start up.

  • I made quite a few writing related mistakes this year. I sunk time and effort into an industry with no money for the most part. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get revenue flowing like you have. I have one tie-in novel that should come out in 2014 and various freelance work, but no steady income stream.

    I rewrote the same novel about three times pretty much from page one.

    I wrote the aforementioned tie-in book.

    I wrote articles and reviews and other things.

    I am broke.


  • I’ve been thinking about this for the past week or so…I sometimes think I do very little (or it seems like I do) but when asked…or forced…to celebrate my achievements (as my life-coach says), I realize I’ve done quite a bit. I ghostwrite stories for a client, and get paid (yay!) and because I’m paid by the word, I’m wont to keep track of said written words.

    In 2013, my first year of actually writing for pay (and as a livelihood) I wrote over 500,000 words of fiction. And that’s not even the same word over and over…I used all my big-girl words. That’s like one Diana Gabaldon-sized novel. Granted, they’re all basically really well-polished first drafts, because my client isn’t as fussy as a publisher will be, but still. I wrote them…all of them. Some of them are even pretty good, if I say so myself. (Some are odd, but I won’t go into those.)

    Anyway, since I seem to have the ability to string together words that please others, and tend to do this at a fairly consistent pace, 2014 is the year I start writing my own novel, in an effort to publish under my own name. (I cheated though, since I started world building and character studies in 2013.)

    I also owe you some spreadsheets…which will be forthcoming as soon as I wrap up the paranormal shifter murder/romance I’m writing. Very fun combining all those ingredients…it’s like that chocolate avocado pudding. It sounds odd but tastes wonderful.

  • 2013 is ending on a shit-tastic fashion, but overall it wasn’t half-bad. My own toddlerperson has turned into an actual little person with Feelings and Opinions (and boy, does she let you know them. Yikes.) I was pointed your way by Aaron Dembski-Bowden -and- Sam Sykes (so you can blame them), and as a direct result of your flash fiction prompts I found myself halfway through the first half of something I lovingly refer to as BookThing (the first 50k+ coming via NaNoWriMo).

    2014 has a few things on the agenda, including taking the husband to Phoenix ComiCon (the first comicon for both of us, yikes), finishing BookThing enough to feed to the general public, and other Writing-Type things. Also finishing Empyrean Sky, which is sitting on my Kindle and crying to be read as I ignore it for holiday gift knitting.

    Also, booze. Because booze.

    And I’ll stick around here, because I like it here. Sorry, not sorry.

  • Good Gods, man, seeing the amount of work you crammed into one year is humbling. I applaud your tenacity and work ethic.

    And Phoenix Comic-Con?! I feel a fan girl moment coming on. I haven’t been to a local convention in probably 15-20 years. That will change now.

    My big change this year was quitting my job of 24+ years to go back to college and learn a new trade. During that time I also took (for fun) a creative writing class which turned into so much more than I expected. I went in hoping for a little feedback on my novel, and came out of it with a whole new outlook and a completely reworked section of a troubled chapter. It went from one of my most hated sections of my story to one of my favorites. By the end of the month, I should have completely finished my rewrite and will be ready to publish in the new year.

    In addition I finished about 1/2 of my next novel (rough draft), and wrote a short story that was accepted for publication and will come out around February. I started work on a new short story in a genre I haven’t tried before (excited and nervous about this one). I wrote two terrible poems. One about stinky cheese. Despite their lacking, I’m pleased that I actually tackled them.

  • I wrote 6 songs and a poem, and got paid to perform them (not much, but hey – I GOT PAID FOR MY SONGS!!!!). Assisted a class of 6 year old school children to write their own class song.
    Oh…and got my first ever royalty cheque ($20) for my music over the last 12 months

  • Chuck, I bow down to your productivity rate of awesomeness. I look like a hibernating bear compared to you (and not even the one in the John Lewis Christmas commercial. Which is a shame because I could do with a new alarm clock… preferably one that’s a little more predictable than the one that jumps on my head at ungodly hours of the night going “Morning mummy I had an awesome dream I was fighting with Yoda and we won let’s play Star Wars can I have my breakfast now…” Where was I? Oh yeah…)

    What did I do for 2013? Well, I FIRST EVER finished the first draft of my current novel-in-slow-progress and continue to wade like a short lady in treacle through draft two – hey, I promised myself I would finish this damn thing even if it took me until I’m ninety, and, as they say in Brokeback Mountain, ‘dammit I just can’t quit you.’ (Except I’m looking at my novel as I say that, not some random cowboy. Not many cowboys in suburban Maidstone.)

    I also hooked up (in a purely cyber-business fashion) with my old musical-writing partner Steven Rodgers again, as he begins a relaunch of the musical ‘Cinderella’ that we wrote together some years ago.

    I also wrote ‘LOTR: OMG!’ (Lord of The Rings For The YouTube Generation – basically for anyone who’s never read Tolkien’s books and therefore thinks Peter Jackson’s trilogy was really really LONNGGG…) It’s a collection of parodies of various contemporary songs that tell the LOTR story in a much more… abridged fashion! That’s about 80% done – hoping to finish that up next year and maybe even find a way of recording it.

    Also made a bit more of an effort with my Blog (well, after August anyway) with a sort-of-hopeful idea that maybe some day in the future people might actually have a good reason to want to read it – like, because they know who I am, for example. ;^)

    On a more serious not, very sadly, my father-in-law died in August after a long and painful battle with cancer. This will be our first Christmas without him and it will feel very strange indeed.

    In between all of this I’ve been battling to keep up with all the demands my son’s school places on parents these days – Chuck, you have all this to come, and believe me the average school can eat up great chunks of your time like sharks in a swimming pool.

    2014? I aim to continue with my projects – whilst making sure Sonny boy doesn’t turn into a dunce overnight just because I don’t; test him on his spellings/times tables every night/read five books a week with him/bake cakes for the next PTA event/make a costume for the next Special Day at School… ;^)

  • And in keeping with the question, my 2013 was fine, thank you Chuck. I revised a debut novel, published it on Amazon and have to date sold exactly 15 copies. Woo and in fact hoo!

    On the other hand, what did I expect, writing a novel that explores the conspiracist version of 9/11 events? That people would actually want to buy and read it? Hush and Fie, my tiddly, as Nursie so famously said.*

    Anyway, that’s what I did. It’s called Vigilant Guardians, as I’ve mentioned before, and will mention again this final time, and you all should really check it out—I guarantee you’ll find it worth your time.

    As for 2014, if I work real hard, I’ll have novel number two done by Christmas, and maybe, things going well, I break the 50 sales mark. Wouldn’t that be spiffing.

    * Blackadder, Season Two, my personal pick for greatest British comedy of all time.

    • I second that! The other seasons were great, but Season Two was the stand-out best of all. Miranda Richardson was the Best Queen Elizabeth Ever. I also remember Tom Baker making a guest appearance as – well, arguably an Elizabethan Tom Baker, but it worked fabulously.

      I often think Horrible Histories might never have happened without Blackadder. ;^)

  • Umm, 2013 was pretty good. Re-gained my center, which always helps. Finished and sold my first novel. Prepped and pubbed my first A-P title. Wrote my 2nd novel(la), and my 3rd(which I should finish a day or two before the year expires). 2014? Releasing my first novel (trad pub) and my first novella (A-P under my own imprint) Hopefully selling novels 2 or 3, or maybe finding an agent. Either way, I’ll create. Novel #4 is cooking in my noggin.

  • Wow, you ‘have’ been prolific. Me? I finished writing a 1920s murder mystery play called Thoroughly Murdered Millie, blogged all year, wrote some personal small stones, began the third draft of my novel, then a couple of weeks ago came to the realisation that I was writing it for the wrong target market, so am no rewriting it for the 9-12 age range. Also began writing a children’s sci fi novel (well, first of a series) with my husband and planning another murder mystery based at a sci fi convention (writing that with my husband too). I lost two stones in weight (more to lose next year but I’m relaxing a tad over the festive break) and, after losing one of my old birds this year (my godmother), decided to write a book of memories about all the characters who coloured my childhood but are now gone. Hopefully writing that one with a journalist friend. Other than that life with my husband and kids ticked over as usual. Have a wonderful festive break.

  • And here I thought I had a busy year. You sir are a machine!!!

    I’m really glad I discovered you and your writing this year and I can’t wait to read more of it.

    You are an inspiration in a fucked up, awesome sort of way and I appreciate that.

    Wish you nothing but success in the coming year! Hope our paths cross one of these days.

  • I found you thanks to your association with NaNoWriMo. I succeeded in my goal for said NaNoWriMo. I hope in the new year to finish and revise my novel and then see what else comes my way.

  • So what I’ve got this year doesn’t quite compare to yours, but 2014 looks hopeful!

    In jan I’ll be releasing my second book – A Song Long Silent – and continuing to write a 300,000 word beast. I’ll hopefully be playing some festivals in the summer with my band – In The Firelight – and in september I’m off to uni, continuing my study of audio recording/production and sound technology. Oh yeah, and a possible endorsement deal with a guitar company. Should be good!

  • I am always searching for a new author to attach my reading skills to and have found,through Blue Blazes, a possible candidate. While always leery a first with any new book and author, I became quickly engrossed and with every page more and more excited. You my good man have roped in another (one of many I’m sure) follower of your tales. Keep on keeping on and know that your hardworking will always find an interested party. Best to you and yours in 2014 and look forward to conquering your collection of word workmanship FOREVER! And possibly beyond.

  • In 2013 I…


    Dragons Of War (Firebrand Trilogy #3), Web of Light & Dark Light (Web Of Light Duology #1 & #2), The Black Mountain (Dragonstar Duology #2), Rise Of The Watchtower (Time of Shadows #4), and Crossfire (Crossfire Duology #1)


    Firebrand & Ten Kingdoms (Firebrand Trilogy #1 & #2), The Silver Catacombs & City Of Magic (Elfblood Trilogy #2 & #3) Shadow Prince & Shadow King (Time of Shadows #2 & #3) Dragonstar (Dragonstar Duology #1), Web of Light & Dark Light (Web of Light Duology #1 & #2)

    In 2014 I plan to…


    Firestorm (Crossfire Duology #2), The Dragon Within & It’s sequel (there may be more than two books, not sure yet) The Watchtower War (Time of Shadows #5), An as yet untitled epic fantasy which I’m thinking might be a standalone but I never know until I reach the end, and four short story anthologies.


    Dragons of War (Firebrand Trilogy #3), Rise of The Watchtower (Time of shadows #4), Black Mountain (Dragonstar Duology #2), Crossfire & Firestorm (Crossfire Duology #1 & #2), The Dragon Within, and four short story anthologies if I finish them in time.

  • I started writing again for the first time in a decade. I have so many ideas bursting forth it sometimes feels like I might burst but currently I’m writing them in my notebook and putting them to one side while I concentrate on finishing the shit that I started!

    In other news, my eldest turned 17 moved out and got a prestigious apprenticeship at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh [I’m so fucking proud of him!]. My youngest also turned 5 and so ends the period of littlekidom in our house. They grow up so fast it’s scary!

    Also I discovered this Blog and it has blown my mind and rocked my world, seriously! Thank you Chuck.

    Looking into the future, I hope to start making money from my writing next year, read some of your novels, finish my novel, start at least one of the other novels I have on standby, and maybe take over the world? [probably not the last one]

  • Let’s see… I discovered science fiction (writing…always loved sci-fi movies) this year and found that I love it. I drafted two novels. Started writing everyday and reading everyday like I knew I should and have always wanted to. Discovered some really cool stuff about my tastes, found myself. Read some really cool stuff. Discovered my strengths and some of my weaknesses. Learned to follow myself, which has lead me to some really cool places. Getting into my process (this is important, a lot of trial and error, and more to come, I’m sure). I read like sixty something books this year, which is awesome. Last year I read like maybe four.

    Homeschooled my kids. Excited that the little ones are reading and are following their own interests. Fun to watch those dudes grow. Next year, I’d like to have three of my novels done and up. I think I’m going to go the self-pub route with them. Don’t know yet. I’d also like to read at least one hundred books. I’d also like to connect to people more.

    Thanks again for this site, Chuck. It’s awesome! Lots of important posts on here, but the poignant messages of if you want to be a writer, you have to actually write (duh), and the You’re Doing It Wrong If…posts really helped me a lot this year. Keep this thing in a hucklebuck, Chuck. Hey fun you know. That rhymed!

  • I got laid off. My writing motivation has tanked. I’m hoping to get back into a groove over the next month and get a job soon. And now I’m griping on the internet.

    Sounds like you had a good year.

  • ACTUALLY, my 2013 was pretty cruddy, but, I am not really dwelling on it. Looking ahead and all that. As long as the family health problems that have plagued us will settle down, then I will be pleased! At the very least, 2013 saw my girlfriend’s horror novel published, which is *awesome* and I feel good about because I feel like “Hey! I had a small part in all that!”. I’m ending the year writing a short piece about contract killers. This is how I roll.

    2014 is the year I finish my novel draft and shove it out into the world (somehow). I’ve gently mapped the first four months of my writing life out, but, am deciding to finish those at first before I look at the middle and end of the year, but, likely more words. Maybe another trip somewhere. Who knows!

    Hopefully, 2014 will be awesome for us all ;D!

  • 2013: I edited a million and a half words for other people. (Yes, seriously.)
    I published an anthology based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot with 21 other writers. It is amazeballs.
    I finished the outline and completed half of Athena’s Chains, second in the Aegean Trilogy.

    2014: I will edit at least a million and a half words for other people.
    I will finished Athena’s Chains and publish; finish the Aegean Trilogy with Athena’s Release.
    Will try to squeeze in a standalone novella/book titled Broken Arrows.

    That’s the game plan. As long as I don’t sleep, eat, or have sexual relations I should be good to go.

  • Sprawlier IS a word now. It’s included in the soon-to-be-released Wendig’s Unabridged Penmonkey Dictionary.

    (Oops. I think that was one of Chuck’s secret 2014 projects. FORGET THAT YOU SAW THIS. Unless you’re pre-ordering, of course.)

  • Hmmm…. 2013
    I wrote and self published a novel. I witnessed the death of my brewery and became very hopeful about its rebirth. I started writing a screenplay. I discovered that there’s no point in comparing myself to people who are at different stages of success in their career than I am. It’s fine to look at their journey as a model to follow, but nothing productive can come from being frustrated that you’re not as far along on your journey as they are. I started blogging. It’s something I’ve long thought about doing, but had never really taken the time to make it happen. I joined twitter, and have made a fair amount of friends through the process. I became a big fan of you, Chuck. I feel horrible in saying so, but I’ve yet to fully read one of your works. I found you on Twitter through following somebody else, and the way you wrote just spoke to me.

    Lots of big plans for 2014. I hope to get my novel noticed. I plan on finishing the screenplay, editing it, and seeing what I can make happen. I plan on giving my brewery a new life and doing my best to make it successful. February will bring the arrival of my son Joseph Thomas Donahue IV, and the fun of seeing how my two year old daughter will deal with having a sibling. Mostly 2014 will be an attempt, with successes and failures, at moving my self down the road towards being able to do what I love for a living…writing the stories in my head and brewing craft beer.

    This is probably a lot longer of a response than you were looking for, but it’s what was on my mind. ;)

  • How many books again? How many words? That’s just not right. You need an exorcism or something.

    I published one book. It took me all year even though the darn thing was already written. I started revising the second one. That’s it. I suck.

    But wait, now that I think about it, I don’t suck. I’m awesome. This is the year I went indie! I finally said “NO MORE QUERYING! My work is mine! And damn it, it’s going to be better than every traditionally published book I’ve ever read.” And I took that thing no agent wanted to rep and from February to October my editor and I polished it to perfection. I hired the best cover artist who gave it a stunning cover that gives me chills every time I look at it.

    2013 is the year I went indie and published my first book. And it’s awesome. And I’m only getting started.

    And Chuck, you’re partially responsible. So thank you for your optimism, your love of writing, your artistic spirit. It’s contagious. The CDC outta shut you down.

  • Yup, I would like to second that. How many other professional writers are out there asking how their fans’ year was, offering writing advice, serving up juicy writing challenges? That’s pretty awesome stuff.

    Can’t wait for those new Wendig titles. They will certainly make my 2014 more enjoyable.

    2013? Meh. Pretty quiet, actually. 2014? It’s going to be a busy year, but a year with promise. Got a few writing projects I’m excited to start on; the challenge will be managing my time around work, family, and all the other stuff life will invariably dish out. By year’s end I’m hoping to publish.

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