Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

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Like Gas On A Fire

Been quite a week. Saw the last ultrasound of my son before he’ll be born (poor boy, he looks like me). Finished a script, which is now off into the wilds, trying to gather financing like a big Hollywood Katamari ball. Started early development on another film project. Sent off two novel synopses. Wrote like a mad motherfucker and finished the novel, Double Dead, topping out at ~90,000 words.

And then last night I get home from “baby class” — where we were injected with deep panic regarding car seats — to discover that Writer’s Digest has named this blog one of the 101 Best Websites For Writers.

First, I must extend a sincere thank you to the folks at Writer’s Digest. I don’t know who was responsible, exactly, but they should know that I appreciate it. A wonderful surprise.

That said, I must also extend with that a sincere warning, as well.

You have made a terrible error. A grievous error. (Man, “grievous” is a great word.)

You know how sometimes you have an out-of-control toddler or a dog with bad habits, and someone inevitably rewards the child or dog and then someone has to step in to say, “Don’t encourage him?”

Mm-hmm. This is like that.

Good heavens, why would you encourage me? It’s like pouring gas on a fire. No, not even that. It’s like giving meth to a grizzly bear. Then giving the grizzly bear a jetpack and a Turkish scimitar. No good is going to come of that. Sure, you want to see what the grizzly is going to do. But it’s just not safe. It’s not even sane.

That scenario has no positive outcome.

The only result of putting this site on such an estimable list confirms that you’ve filled my head with the airy delusions of legitimacy. It’s like you’ve handed me a license from the government, and printed on this license are the benefits of said licensing, and those benefits listed include:

“The right to make up writing advice and claim legitimacy despite only threadbare authority;”

“The right to fustigate readers about the head and neck with false bravado and eye-watering profanity;”

“The right to use words like ‘fustigate;'”

“The right to guzzle a pony’s weight in liquor while doing all of the above.”

You’ve not only unlocked the cage door. You’ve thrown the key into a dark and endless abyss. This will have terrible repercussions. Twenty years from now, I’m going to be telling my then-20-year-old-son something and he’s going to say, “Dad, I don’t know if that’s right, I don’t think anybody actually found the Humbaba from the Epic of Gilgamesh in Lake Erie. You’re just making that up.” And I’m going to whip out my copy of Writer’s Digest and point to the 101 Best Websites For Writers, and I’m going to just tap #43 gently and clear my throat obnoxiously, thus indicating my false expertise in everything everywhere ever always. And then my son is going to ask me, “Dude, what’s a website?” And I’ll answer, “It’s like a dinosaur, except with more pornography. And don’t call me ‘dude,’ I’m your father.”

Then he’ll ask me, “What’s a writer?”

And I’ll just cry and remind him that writers all went extinct in 2013 when the price of e-books hovered roughly around “one possum tail and a handful of dried leaves.”

So, haters who think I’m gonna shut up? Oooh. Yeah, sorry. Like I said, gas on a fire. Conflagration, whoosh. Now I’ve a whole head full of illusion, my ego like a fatted calf.

Those who continue to dig on this site, well, buckle up, penmonkeys. The ride is only just getting going. Turns out, terribleminds ain’t going nowhere.

Thank you again to Writer’s Digest.

Now —



Flash Fiction Challenge: The Cocktail

First and foremost:

Last week’s flash fiction challenge is here — The Unexplained Must Be Explained. Stories may be coming in throughout the day, so feel free to check back over yonder.


Welcome back. It’s time, again, to play with flash fiction the way a cat plays with a dead mouse. Batting it back and forth. Bringing it to your owners to show off. Making little Prada handbags out of it.

Today’s challenge: choose a cocktail, and name your story after it. The great thing is, you have a lot of leeway here: the cocktails that exist in this world are nigh-endless. From the common (Dirty Martini, Tom Collins, Whiskey Sour) to the WTF (Satan’s Whiskers, Electric Smurf, Monkey Gland). The story doesn’t need to incorporate the cocktail, though you’re certainly welcome to do that.

Also: bonus points if you give the cocktail recipe after the story. Because, fuck it, we’re all lushes here, right? Right. High-five, those whose livers look like beach-balls or peach-pits.

Here’s the tweak:

You only have 500 words this go around.

And, the goal is still to use those 500 words to tell a full story, not just a vignette. Remember, flash fiction ideally has a beginning, middle, and an end; they’re just trimmed, sharpened, heightened.

Standard rules apply. Post at your blog. Link back here if you’d like. Then post a link (don’t rely on the trackback) in the comments in this post. Any questions, shoot ’em my way.

I think I will once more begin aggregating the links because, frankly, I think it made it easier to view the links. I’m going to try to keep on it as they come in, through, for ease of attack.

Get thee to writing, you ink-stained drunken baboons!

[EDIT: Doh, I didn’t make clear: You’ve got one week, till the close of next Friday, 4/15.]

The Stories

Lindsay Mawson, “A.S.S. On Flames

Josin McQuein, “Flaming Moe

Anthony Laffan, “Satan’s Whiskers

Quinn Slater, “Camel Piss

McDroll, “The Smokey Carburetor

Madison Morris, “Sex With Captain Or Babymomma

Aiwevanya, “Bloody Mary

Anthony Schiavino, “Jack Rose

Dan O’Shea, “Bloody Mary

AB, “The Corpse Reviver

Shauna Granger, “Irish Gold

Stephanie Belser, “Zombie

Sparky, “Rattlesnake

Eck, “Tee Many Martini

Neliza Drew, “Paradise

Tim Kelley, “Primal Scream

Bob Bois, “Lucy On The Floor

KD James, “Tom Collins

Pia Newman, “Swimming Pool

Angie Arcangioli, “Negroni Splash

Carolyn E. Bentley, “Mugging In Moscow

Tara Tyler, “J Is For Jello Shooter

Marlan, “Mad Cow Special

Seth, “Moscow Mule

Paul Vogt, “Snake In The Grass

Dan Wright, “Gin And Sin

Tribid, “G&T

Joseph McGee, “A Murder Of Crows

C.M. Stewart, “Tom Cullen


The Mighty Endjaculation

I love ending a story.

Here’s why:

Because eventually you reach a space where it’s the point of no return. You’ve been building. And building. Climbing the hill. Worrying at the bone with your teeth. And suddenly it’s all there. You can only go down. It all comes together how it has to come together and —

Well, use whatever metaphor you like.

Roller coaster cresting a hill.

Throwing up and purging after a long night of feeling like shit.

The climactic ejaculation — the blog-titular “mighty endjaculation.”

You either get there or you don’t. If you get there, you know it adds up. Maybe it’s not good, but sweet fuck, it adds up. And it happens fast, too. You have momentum. You use gravity. That’s the best part about writing an ending, or even a whole third act. No more confusion. Only a kind of weird eerie purity. The way is clear. Run, fuck, kill, or die. You’ve already jumped off the bridge. Now all you gotta do is fall.

It happened when I finished Blackbirds. I hit the last act and it all just burped out of me.

It happened when I finished the script for HiM. We knew where it needed to go and how it was going to happen and when the time came to bang it out, those last days of writing I was hitting 10, 15 pages a day.

It happened just now, 20 minutes ago, when I finished Double Dead.

Wrote 4k day before yesterday. Wrote 4k yesterday. Today? 7k.

Double Dead is double done.

And by “double done” I mean “not actually done at all.” This is just the first draft. I gotta do a pass. Editor’s gotta do a pass. Writing is rewriting, after all. But I will say, it feels good. I’m happy. For today, at least. And I’m going to run with that. Run with it all the way home, cackling, giggling, doing cartwheels. Metaphorical carthwheels. If I tried to do the real thing, I’d break my fool neck.

For now, I breathe a big giant exhalation of air.

Who wants some whisky?


How Not To Be A Dickface As A Writer

As you may know, I’ve a novel due in the next couple weeks. By the time you read this I may already be done said novel, but I still want some padding during these days to give it a once over and make sure it’s in tip-top shape before it leaps forthwith into the publisher’s open, loving arms. That means, over the next two weeks, you’re going to see a bunch — nay, a bushel — of guest posts here at Ye Olde Terryblemyndes bloggery hut (“Where the Elite Meet to Eat Sweet Treats”). Friday’s flash fiction will remain ongoing, however. Anywho, here then is a guest post from sinister ink-witch and terribleminds favorite, Karina Cooper. Her website is here. And don’t forget to follow her on the Twitters.

May I have your attention, please? Hi. My name is Karina Cooper. I am a writer. Are you all paying attention? Yes? Good. Ready?

Charlie Sheen.

You know that thing you just did? That tic? That, right there, is why you want to hear me.

Look, I get it. You’ve spent all this time reading helpful blogs, tips, articles and the like all about how to be a better writer. How to cleverly avoid adverbs, narrowly miss writing yourself into corners, sincerely query your agents and editors of choice. You’re told how to save a penny, earn a penny, make a buck. There’s excellent how-tos, dos and don’ts, tidbits and bite-sized morsels of help from all over.

What I have never found? A reminder. One that Charlie Sheen dished out just by example. One that a handful of other prolific writers and wanna-be authors really should have been told. Shut up. Pay attention. Stare hard. I want these words branded in your brain:

Don’t be a dickface.

Ooh. Sorry, is that too much? Let me couch it in terms my agent said to me: “Don’t be a whack job online.”

Better? Good. Let me give you some background.

Once upon a time, there was an incredibly prolific writer who kept a blog. In this blog, she wrote all about the fact that her main character looks like her. And a fuckwit character in her books (a man whose character growth seemed to expand or retract based on this author’s whim) was actually based on her abusive ex-husband. In this same series, the weirdly perfect new hero was based on her now-husband, a man who used to stalk her. Are you creeped out, yet?

In a galaxy far, far away, another prolific author took to Twitter to share that the new work in progress sucked. That it was a bad day, but the sucky book was finished, and would be ready for readers to pony up $8 a pop for this sucky work of suckitude. Whine, whine, and one hand out to collect the earnings. Pity sales would skyrocket for sure… OR WOULD IT?

Meanwhile, back in Manhattan… An author took to roundly scolding every reader and reviewer who dared leave a less than stellar review on various review sites. This author would stalk the web for any mention of name or books, and leave trash-talking comments (sometimes anonymously), insulting everything from the reviewer’s taste to affiliations to intelligence.

…Are you sensing a trend?

Listen, my delicious friends, it’s a simple fact. Sitting behind the anonymous screen of your own computer makes you God. It makes you Zuul. It makes you untouchable and popular and ohmygodcrazy. They love you. They REALLY love you.

I’m here to tell you: don’t be fooled. It’s tempting to grab a beer and sit back on your digital porch, cranking out banjo tunes and shooting off your shotgun (overly complex metaphor is overly complex), but don’t. People are listening. No, really, read that again: people ARE listening. Once-fans or potential readers who don’t feast on drama and rage. Editors and agents who sure as shit are Googling your name upon receiving a query.

Have a blog about eating babies with a nice glass of cranberry juice? A Twitter rant about how stupid Editors X, Y, and Z are? An article extolling the virtues of the First Religion of Anal Bleaching? Congratulations. You’ve just shared with prospective employers three things: 1) you’re non-engagingly weird, and possibly a serial killer, 2) you can’t be professional and certainly can’t be trusted not to stir shit in what amounts to a place of business, and 3) you have an overly zealous obsession with harsh chemicals in delicate places.

None of these things are what we’d call “excellent business sense”.

Let me put it in very clear terms: Writing is a business. Editors, agents, these are your employers (and although it could be said that agents work for you, it’s you that has to earn them, see?). You DO want to get out there and be heard, but you want to be remembered for who you are, your own charming self, your awesome hair, and most importantly, what you’re writing and not what you’re frothing at the mouth about.

“But, Karina,” you whine, “I can only be me!” Okay, fine. The you with the spiky colored hair and facial piercings is eccentric. The you with the porcelain doll collection is quaint. The you with the ongoing obsession with neon pink polka dots and red armpit hair is… unfortunate, but you are what you are.

The you with the undying need to argue with people who don’t like your work, the you with the unhealthy desire to overshare about your sex/political/religious life, the you with seriously unresolved issues treating your blog like a therapist maybe should stay behind closed doors. That means off the net, out of the limelight, stuffed in a closet and beaten with sticks.

You want to write? Pfft, ANYONE can write.

You want to make it as a writer? You want to become an author by career? Then you gotta walk the walk. Talk the talk. Have attitude all you want, but don’t let it get the best of you.

Don’t, in fact, be a dickface.

I know this stuff. I’m a romance author. I’ve got magenta hair and more piercings than I know what to do with, I have a Twitter feed a mile long, I spam the ever-living hell out of the online community, and despite all of this weirdness I present, I am not a dickface, either. I can be ME without opening up my dirty laundry to the world.

Come, friends. Let us not be dickfaces together.

Oh, and you should totally go out and get my first book. It’s called Blood of the Wicked, and it’s out May 31st, 2011. Check it out on Goodreads! Actually, only do that if you or someone you know loves witches, romance, blood, murder, death, sex and gratuitous use of the word “fuck.” And happy endings. I love me some happy endings. Otherwise, just enjoy my glistening spam-meats over at Twitter.

Edit: Chuck also adds: Amazon has a pre-order button for Blood of the Wicked.

Be A Shark In The Waters Of Social Media

As you may know, I’ve a novel due in the next couple weeks. By the time you read this I may already be done said novel, but I still want some padding during these days to give it a once over and make sure it’s in tip-top shape before it leaps forthwith into the publisher’s open, loving arms. That means, over the next two weeks, you’re going to see a bunch — nay, a bushel — of guest posts here at Ye Olde Terryblemyndes bloggery hut (“Where the Elite Meet to Secrete the Tweets”). Friday’s flash fiction will remain ongoing, however. Anywho, here then is a guest post from game designer and big brain, the Evil Hat hisownself, Fred Hicks. His website is here. And don’t forget to follow him on the Twitters.

You’re online. You’re plugged in. You’ve already got the notion in your head that you are your brand. Your presence online is important. Building a community of fans is the key to making it all go. You take all of these as the givens of life as a 21st-Century Connected Persona.

And you’re completely at sea when it comes to social media, the dark waters of forums, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Even though you’ve already accepted the principles I mention above, it gets all wibbledy-wobbledy when you sit down to turn those principles into concrete action. It’s a big ocean, and you left your water-wings at home.

Time to become a shark.

Whuh? Huh? You heard me. One of those big fuckers with sharp pointy teeth. Never stops swimming or it dies. Always on the lookout for food. Shark.

That’s how you’ll survive those waters. You get in there, you hunt down what you need, you rip into it when you find it, and then you move on. That’s how you navigate the waters of social media, instead of those waters navigating you.

Here’s how it’s done.

Don’t Stop Swimming

For you, this means you don’t slow down and soak in any one location as you make your rounds. Breeze on through. Social media is chock full of stuff that will hoover onto your face given half a chance. This is essentially crap that will keep you from getting on to the rest of your life.

You know that thing about how there will always be more movies you could see than you ever possibly will in your lifetime? The amount of stuff you could waste your time on in social media is worse. Unless you’re planning on making a job solely out of keeping up with everything that’s floating around in these waters, it’s not worth your time.

This isn’t something you have to be perfect at: every now and then something will grab your attention. It’s fine to read that stuff, interact a little. But always remember: keep on swimming. Stay in motion.

If It Doesn’t Feed You, It’s Not Worth It

You’re a shark. You gotta eat. Look for the chum in the water.

In social media, that bloodylicious chum is in the form of your fans making an effort to contact you. It doesn’t take more than a quick thank-you or a funny one-liner response to make that fan’s day. Nobody’s (reasonably) expecting you to write a thousand-word treatise in response to their inquiry. So do the 100-character reply. Your fan will feel like they made a connection. The emotion that comes with that will strengthen the bond to you, and thus, the fandom. And that fandom’s what feeds you.

But sometimes you’ll need to hunt a little, too. Learn how to do a keyword search on Twitter, and save that search so you can run it regularly. Hook yourself up with Google blog search and give it your name and the names of your works. And whenever one of those pings with something new, that’s your blood in the water: get there, make a connection, and swim on, well-fed.

Let Them See The Fin

You’ve got a leg up on the shark. Your food wants you to eat it. So, if your fans are there to feed you, they need to be able to find you. The trick is in figuring out how to do it in a way that doesn’t slow down your swimming.

Automatic integration is the key, here. Make it possible for your blog to tweet when your post goes up, so those posts don’t happen in silence. Facebook makes it possible to automatically posts your wall messages to Twitter, or vice-versa — make that connection, so you don’t end up cheating one audience out of what the other one gets, and so you don’t have to manually push the same message twice.

Stay Frosty

Sharks do not care about how the other fish feel about them.

I’ll be the first to admit that this one’s tricky in the translation. Somebody takes a big crap on that story you wrote, it’s hard not to get all aflame about it. But there’s no percentage in letting others feel that heat. It’s a distraction. It doesn’t feed you. You’ll get in a fight, maybe you’ll both bite each other, and importantly you’ll limp away the worse for wear. Best to ignore it and swim along.

Or maybe do one better, and weaken this faux-predator with the gnashing teeth of kindness: thank them for taking the time to look at your stuff. Be polite, friendly, and awesome. They’ll look the ass, and folks who don’t like them will see a potential new connection in you.

Where’s The Blood?

Fellow sharks, sound off. Where are you smelling the blood? How do you stay swift, stay swimming? And where are you getting gummed up with social media? Let’s see if we can’t rip into your troubles and put you back in place as the apex predator of these here waters.

The Writer Who Is Also A Parent

As you may know, I’ve a novel due in the next couple weeks. By the time you read this I may already be done said novel, but I still want some padding during these days to give it a once over and make sure it’s in tip-top shape before it leaps forthwith into the publisher’s open, loving arms. That means, over the next two weeks, you’re going to see a bunch — nay, a bushel — of guest posts here at Ye Olde Terryblemyndes bloggery hut (“Where the Elite Meet to Delete Deceit”). Friday’s flash fiction will remain ongoing, however. Anywho, here then is a guest post from Penmonkey and Munchkin Wrangler, Marko Kloos. His website is here. And don’t forget to follow him on the Twitters.

Somewhere out there, there’s a writer — let’s call him Buck.

Buck likes to write in his special space, a quiet office with view of the garden and the squirrels cavorting therein. He has a certain time for writing — the sacred slot from eight in the morning to noon, when Buck takes the phone line out of the wall and doesn’t answer the door. When Buck sits down to write, he likes to drink his special coffee blend, listen to his special writing music, wear his special writing jacket, and write with his special pen in custom-made notebooks. If even one of those conditions isn’t met, the muse will stay away, because Buck can only work the prose magic when everything is Just Right.

Right now, while Buck is finishing Chapter Two of his SF epic SPACESHIPS WITH LASERS (Volume One of the GALACTIC KABLOOIE tetralogy), his wife is in the bathroom, looking at a pregnancy test that’s showing a friendly little plus sign.

Right now, Buck is completely and utterly fucked.

Being a full-time parent and being a writer aren’t incompatible. Hell, if you truly want to write, there’s no job so time-consuming or tedious that you can’t scribble down 250 words a day in your lunch break or on the subway ride home. Where there’s a will, there’s a word count, and all that.

That said, there’s one thing you need to kiss good-bye when preparing for the job of stay-at-home parent, and that’s the lofty notion that your word count is the primary concern of your day. Your new job description is “Parent and Writer,” not the other way around. Your primary concern in life is now the naturally self-centered little thing snoozing in the bassinet nearby — the one who wants to be fed or changed or snuggled exactly thirty seconds after you’ve opened the laptop to tack some more words onto the first draft of ELVES IN CHAIN MAIL BIKINIS. If your muse needs seclusion, silence, and a predictable schedule to come visit, you won’t see the flighty little bitch again until your kid goes off to college. That’s why you have to flag her down for a little chat the moment you know you’re going to be a stay-at-home parent. You need to convince her to switch to an on-call schedule. If that means pulling the old trick where you offer her a smoke, quickly handcuff her to your own wrist, and then flush the key down the toilet, then so be it. Because from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital, your schedule has been switched to “on-call,” too.

My kids are now six and four. I have been a stay-at-home parent for every day of the last six years. Here’s where I have written in those six years: on a park bench, in the playground, in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office, on the couch in the playroom, in the bathroom (that last desperate quiet refuge of the parent), out in the backyard on a TV dinner tray, at the kitchen counter while waiting for milk to heat up, and even–occasionally — at my desk in the office. You will quickly learn to steal your writing time wherever and whenever you can get it, or you will see your word count plummet faster than Borders stock.

(It helps to have a writing tool that’s portable and easy to drag into the playroom or to the park with you. Laptops are great, paper notebooks are even better. A composition book with a pen clipped to the spine is less attractive to thieves when you’re out and about, and a spilled sippy cup won’t mean a thousand-dollar write-off.)

Combining a writing job with a parenting gig is tough work, mentally speaking. That kid is a smelly little wrecking ball that will smash your comfortable and self-centered little writing schedule into tiny bits, and then swing around and pound your brain into pudding on the rebound. If you are going down that route, you will need a lot of determination, and a substantial booze supply. That way, my friend, lies madness.

I’m exaggerating just a bit here, because giving new parents the pre-natal heebie-jeebies is one of the joys and perks of being a veteran parent. Sure, a child will screw up your writing schedule, and you will have to adapt to some degree, no matter how docile the little tyke turns out. But in the end, you’ll find that having to do so will make you a better writer.  There’s simply no time for lollygagging anymore. If you have to carve your writing time out of the day in ten- and twenty-minute slices, you’ll learn to pound out the words at a moment’s notice. And if you can manage the brain work that goes into novel-writing while a little kid runs around the room going “OOOWEEE OOOWEEE” for an hour straight, there won’t be much left in this world that can derail your mental train. A veteran writer-parent can crank out prose in the middle of an artillery bombardment, or while sitting in the first row at a Justin Bieber concert.

(There are also the other fringe benefits of the Daddy/Mommy-Wordsmith job. Those puke stains on your t-shirt, and your general hobo-like appearance? Those are a legitimate, respected work uniform when accompanied by a kid in a Snugli. The two cocktails you usually have with lunch? Those are mental health medication now.)

Just don’t get the bright idea of having two kids, and then deciding to home-school them. There’s simply not enough liquor in the world.