Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

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Chuck Under Microscope

The Bait Dog Kickstarter Is A-Go

Atlanta Burns.

Teenage girl with a shotgun. Standing up for the used and abused, the bullied and the beaten. A little bit Veronica Mars. A touch of Raylan Givens. Add a dash of Charles Bronson in Death Wish.

Now, she wants a ride in her first novel, and so I give you: BAIT DOG.

Well, I don’t give it to you yet, I guess —

Because now BAIT DOG has a Kickstarter drive.

I’ve got all kinds of cool rewards cooking — not just the e-book but a hardcover and trucker hats and a copy of Fireside Magazine (with another Atlanta Burns short story in it, “Shotgun Gravy”) and, if you happen to be wealthy and/or insane, a chance to come visit me in Pennsyltucky and fire off the shotguns and shoot whatever the hell we can find. (I suspect nobody’s going to bite the bullet on that one.) Be advised, too — you do not need to read SHOTGUN GRAVY first (though you can if you so choose). With a successful pledge of the Kickstarter $5.00 and up, you’ll get access to all the information you need to know. BAIT DOG is a standalone novel; no previous knowledge required.

Also, for every $3000 earned, I’ll write a brand new Atlanta Burns novel. So, theoretically, if we blow past the 100% point (though the Devil only knows if we’ll even get to 100%), there exists the chance for not one but several of Atlanta’s adventures as a teenage detective-slash-vigilante to come into the light.

Atlanta as a character means a lot to me. She’s kind of the patron saint of kicking over anthills and whupping up on bullies who might think to put someone down because they’re different in some way.

Hopefully she’ll mean something to you, too.

As a sidenote, Sweet Sid and Marty Krofft it’s tricky business putting together a Kickstarter video. I mean, on the surface, it’s fairly simple: “Point face at camera and say smart things.” It’s that latter part I had trouble with. You know how many videos ended up with me mouthing off a machine gun chatter of profanity and then trying to bite the lens in half? I’ll give a conservative estimate of… mmm, ohh, 95% of ’em. At one point I really figured I might just post a video of me throwing up and then crying into my own sick on the hopes that I’d earn a sympathy pledge.

But then somehow it came together and I managed to post a video that was not altogether horrid.

Regardless, thanks for checking out the Kickstarter drive. I do hope you’ll take a look and spread the word and, of course, pledge. I don’t know if Kickstarter is the future for creative types, but it’s certainly a very interesting component of the present and I suspect it will be an entertaining and illuminating ride. Thanks for taking it with me!

The Experiment Ends (And Other News)

As noted on Monday, I was trying a little experiment: I flung my Atlanta Burns novella, SHOTGUN GRAVY, up onto Amazon’s exclusive Kindle “KDP Select” program which purports to offer authors two key benefits: first, the ability to take part in Kindle lending which further grants authors access to a large “pot” of money monthly; second, the advantage (or, some might say, “advantage”) of putting your work up online for free.

As of late, a number of folks have noticed a phenomenon. You put your work up for free, and then when it once more re-enters paid gravity, suddenly the book becomes a Purchasing Magnet whereupon droves and flocks and herds and gaggles of Amazon readers come out of the woodwork to buy the recently-free book. A lot of authors have been attempting to jump this promotion’s bones (evidenced by the sudden flurry of “My work is free suddenly!” broadcasts).

Well, I figured, let’s try it.

SHOTGUN GRAVY‘s a novella that did well in its first month but kind of tapered off — it gets a sale or three a day, which is fine and adds to the whole pile, but it’s not exactly a rocketship to the money moon. Further, if I’m going to justify putting out the sequel, BAIT DOG, I figured I damn well better get the book into people’s hands. Free or not.

I originally put the book up for five days. You only get one five-day-period during your 90-day reign of exclusivity, however — so, I figured, I’d better chop it down to two.

Here’s how it went.

Putting the book up for free amassed a sudden burst of books distributed (I dare not use the word “sold” since, well, you don’t pay for a free book with anything but a stab of your finger on a mouse button). Right out of the gate, had about 100 people nab the book. Which was curious — where the hell did they come from? Are they real people? I don’t even know.

Over the course of the next 24 hours, I amassed over 5000 copies distributed free to readers. A nice enough number. Happy to have the book on a heap of Kindles, though one supposes that a good percentage of those will never read the book — perhaps I’m being cynical, but I know that the less I pay for a book, the lower it falls in my To-Be-Read pile. By yesterday morning, the book had reached #44 in the Top 100 Free and so I thought, now’s a good time to cut short the five days to two days. I went to end it thinking that I’d still get two full days of the promo — but within 30 minutes of asking the promo to end, it ended, lickity-split.

Which is fine, but I didn’t expect it to work that fast. Amazon can be notorious for veeeeeery sloooowly updating things — even a simple price change can take up to 48 hours to populate.

So, then. Results?

I did not initially see any boost in sales. Hour or two went by and the e-book didn’t move one whit. But then, ping — a sale. Okay, fine. Then another, and another. Steadily — and slowly, mind — the e-book sold about 60 copies. (This is as of 7:00PM last night.) It’s since not moved again in about an hour. The book crested to Amazon ranking #1,793. Further, it garnered another six reviews during that period (all four- and five-star).

(I’d politely ask that if you procured my book — or any book! — for free, leave a review upon reading it?)

Now, many have reported that a bigger sales boost occurs two to three days after the free promo ends. Not sure if that’ll happen here, but I’m damn sure gonna keep my eyes peeled.

Assessment of results?

Good, I guess. I’m happy to have the novella in the hands of 5000 more theoretical readers. I would have preferred they pay the buck for it, but if that means I’ve got more folks willing to chip in for BAIT DOG or other work of mine, that’s great.

This leads to the question, did I experience a sales boost of my other e-books?

I did not.

Quite the contrary, actually.

Soon as I triggered the free promo, my e-book sales over that two-day period were cleanly halved in twain. That’s kinda weird. I mean, I have no evidence that it has anything to do with the free promo — why would it? Surely it’s coincidence. Only thing I can think of is that there seems to exist some strange internal Amazon promotional algorithm that us Human Beings cannot access lest it overload our mental circuitry. Something about how books achieve rankings and show up under other books and appear on the main page and so on and so forth. If this is true, one could theorize that triggering the SG free promo… I dunno, rearranged the promotional eggs in the digital egg basket Amazon built for me.

Which makes little sense, but there it is.

We’ll see if sales rebound. Gods, I hope so — January has been a really stupendous month in terms of getting the e-books out there. Which leads me to…

Brand New E-Book Promo

Buy any of the following books on writing during the month of February:




And I’ll comp you a copy of:


If you procure via PDF, you don’t need to do anything. You’ll get 250 Things automatically.

If you procure via other methods (Amazon, B&N), send me proof of purchase to:

terribleminds at gmail.

Other Stuff

Let’s see, let’s see…

Just finished the first official (third unofficial) draft of MOCKINGBIRD. Off to the Robot!

Will today also finish the first draft of DINOCALYPSE NOW.

The Washington Post calls me a “death blogger” and “macabre mastermind” in a piece about my collaborative storytelling and art Tumblr project, This Is How You Die. Reminder, of course, that the How You Die blog is always taking submissions — text, photo, song, art of any variety, all about how you might die. (More information here.)

I also get a shout-out at Huffington Post courtesy of Amy Edelman and Melissa Foster in a piece called, “The Big Reasons Indie Authors Aren’t Taken Seriously.”

BLACKBIRDS gets its first official review (from Fantasy Nibbles, tee hee) — and it’s glowing! (“…a truly unforgettable heroine driving the action. The writing is razor sharp throughout, and I’m genuinely concerned that I might be a little bit messed up for enjoying this one so much.”)

Oh, and then the book gets another glowing review from New York Journal of Books! Woo. (“Author, screenwriter, and writing advice guru Chuck Wendig creates a compelling tale with an even more compelling protagonist in Miriam Black: a tough, street wise survivor who finally escapes her troubled childhood only to find that she can’t escape herself. Despite her fairly macabre lifestyle, Miriam has a strength and sarcastic wit that makes her very likeable and strangely sympathetic.”)

And My Bookish Ways throws DOUBLE DEAD into the review machine and gives it a 5 outta 5, baby. (“Double Dead is a terrifying, violent, American road trip through zombie hell.”)

Finally, TALES FROM THE FAR WEST — a rad-ass Wild West Wuxia mash-up short story collection based on Gareth Skarka’s Far West storyworld drops in e-book format (and soon, print). I’m in here surrounded by some of my favorite people — Will Hindmarch, Eddy Webb, Ari Marmell, Matt Forbeck, Jason Blair. My story — “Riding the Thunderbird” — is about a girl, an outlaw, and a herd of storming thunderbirds.

Shotgun Gravy Is Free For The Next Five Days

I’ve taken the plunge.

SHOTGUN GRAVY is now on KDP Select.

Meaning, for Prime members, you can take the book out as a “loan.”

Also meaning, right now, the novella is free.

Now, I don’t know how I feel about KDP Select. On the one hand, I do appreciate that it expands options for authors and readers alike in terms of getting new fiction into their greedy little eye-holes. On the other hand, I don’t like that this only further foments the decrease of competition in the marketplace by increasing Amazon’s advantage and market share, which as a result does little good for readers with other platforms (or a desire to support bookselling entities beyond Amazon).

So, why now?

First, I’d like Atlanta Burns to meet some new readers. If this does that, win. I’m keen on finishing and releasing the sequel, BAIT DOG (now likely a novel, not a novella), but I’d like to get this book in more hands before I do so. If this does that? Then hey, score. Because honestly? Atlanta Burns needs some help, I think. This might provide just the sales boost she needs — she’s got 28 great reviews going for her. I get emails now and again telling me how much people really love her as a protagonist and love how the book tackles bullies. But, then again, it may not provide any boost at all. I’m not in the habit of expecting.

Second, this novella’s been out now for, what, four months? And during that time it’s been available at B&N and here as PDF — so, readers outside Amazon have hopefully had the opportunity to get on board.

Third, it seems like at least trying KDP Select will give me a better understanding of its relative merits and concerns. None of my other books at present are going that way.

So —

If you’re looking for a chance to nab the story of a troubled girl going up against some local bullies with her .410 shotgun in order to help a couple friends, here’s your shot to do so for a price that’s Cheap As Free.

If you dig it, then let others know.

Further, if you have thoughts on the KDP Select thing, feel free to talk about it in the comments.

Finally, worth a read: “How KDP Select Saved My Book,” by David Kazzie.

Shotgun Gravy at Amazon (US).

Shotgun Gravy at Amazon (UK).

Where’s Wendig?

First, I’ll tell you where Wendig is — Wendig is neck-deep in wordsmithy. That’s not a bad thing, obviously, but it’s the kind of thing where every time I blink, I get inkdrops on my eyelashes. I’m keeping my head above the word count, thankfully, but just last night a brand new thing dropped into my lap (in short: someone’s looking for an awesome pitch about something by, drum roll please, Monday).

So, what that means is that you, the casual audience, gets treated to another bullshit “this is what Chuck is up to and where you can find that rambling jackass on the web” kinda post.

No need to thank me. Or fling your panties at my front porch.

Anyway. Where I be?

Blogradio interview at: Canned Laughter and Coffee. Where I discuss flinging panties. And zombies.

An interview with me at Galileo Games about, well, zombies again. (It’s a theme, I guess?)

This Is How You Die has collected close to 20 pages of submissions by now. It’s been an an interesting experience so far. (And we’ve had one musical submission!) Definitely hoping to see more art- or photo-based submissions over time. Given the Tumblr’s thematic (and sometimes narrative) connection to BLACKBIRDS, Angry Robot posted a tidbit at their blog. One thing that creeps me out: searching the “death” tag across Tumblr. You find some interesting stuff there, some compelling ideas and poems and whatever. But you also find a lot of talk about suicide. And you occasionally find very disturbing images of dead bodies. Sometimes murdered. Sometimes children. The Internet is a weird-ass place to live, sometimes.

I might be in LA at some point soon. Where my LA peeps at?

“I find it hard to believe that a person who mistakes vulgarity for humor has advice worth pursuing. Do yourself a favor and buy a book written by a grown-up.” Aww. How sweet! (Er, out of all seriousness, I’m not asking folks to go and respond to her. Her review is her review, if you can call it that. Mostly I like these kind of reviews — “He’s got a poo-poo mouth!” — because they end up selling the book far better than I ever could.)

Did you participate in the “Three Sentences For Bear71” flash fiction challenge? Some of your stories may be popping up at the “I Am Bear71” Tumblr. Bear71 is at Sundance as we speak.

Okay, this isn’t about me (I know, I hear your bleats of disappointment), but I am reminded (courtesy of Eddy Webb) that Cyanide & Happiness is awesome. If you read webcomics, I’m always looking for suggestions. This particular strip of C&H is a nice jab at our current consumption culture.

And I think that’s all she wrote.

The Chuck Update

You want an update? I gotcher update right here, pal.

• Have you told the world yet how you’re going to die? New Tumblr. Curating fears and fantasies about our deaths. Go there. Tell me about your death and how you envision it. THIS IS HOW YOU DIE. As a sidenote, received a butt-ton of entries for that — if yours hasn’t shown up, it’s possible it’s in the queue. (Also possible it was a little too out-of-theme. Some entries were fun but were more about cheating death than death itself, which felt like — well, it felt like a cheat. Go figure.)

• Maybe you saw yesterday, maybe you didn’t, but Abaddon Books has asked me back into the writer’s stable, even after that… incident with the donkey (“Chuck Wendig Returns To Abaddon“). And what will Chuck — er, me — be doing? First up is a sequel to DOUBLE DEAD called BAD BLOOD. Your favorite vampire-in-zombieland is back, this time in e-novella format. Second up is I’ll be writing a novel to spearhead a new urban fantasy series called GODS & MONSTERS. Which pretty much tells you all you need to know about that. Thanks to Abaddon for inviting me back!

• Oh, one other tidbit there from that blog post — DOUBLE DEAD was the fastest-selling Abaddon title of 2011? Mine is the face of joy at news like that. Very exciting stuff.

• New “Penmonkey Incitement” count — we’re up to 737. Which means we passed both the 650 and 700 marks, which means it’s time to give out two more postcards and one more t-shirt. (More information on the Penmonkey Incitement promotion right here.) I’ll pick in the next 24 hours and email folks who won — so, if you’re looking for a shot to nab a free postcard or t-shirt, remember to procure a copy of COAFPM and be sure to let me know about it at terribleminds at gmail dot com.

GIMME SHELTER, new zombie anthology. I’ve a tale in there, along with great stories by Tee Morris, Mur Lafferty, Filamena Young, Phillipa Ballentine, David Hill, Pete Woodworth, and more. Out now!

• Slowly but surely putting together that terribleminds Kickstarter.

• Those asking about the next Atlanta Burns book, BAIT DOG? I’m noodling making it a full novel instead of a novella. Feels like there’s so much more to it than the novella I’ve written, so I might blow it out and go bigger with it. Keep your grapes peeled. Ohhh, and speaking of Atlanta Burns, SHOTGUN GRAVY is now $0.99 at Amazon and B&N.

• Got edits back on the next Miriam Black book, MOCKINGBIRD. Eeee! And ow! And eeee! And ow!

• Looking for DINOCALYPSE NOW news? Done by the end of the month. Ish. Easily one of the most challenging things I’ve ever written. Worth it, I hope. But a serious challenge. Go ahead: ask me why!

• My “25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing” post went very, very viral. Like a rampant case of chlamydia it spread like fire across the writer’s net — in two weeks it’s become the biggest post ever here, and led to this site easily blowing up the previous record for views in a day, week, and month. Glad everybody liked it, and thanks everybody for spreading it around.

Your turn. What are you up to?

Transmissions From Baby-Town: “This Chorus Of Mirth And Madness”

Christmas came and Christmas went, and in the wake of Santa Jesus we found the flotsam and jetsam of a child’s joy –what I’m saying is, our living room exploded and gave birth to a metric ass-ton of baby toys.

And now, over a week later, I’m left rocking back and forth. In the corner. Covered in a shellacking of dried saliva and carpet fibers, my fingers burned with battery acid as they tried desperately — and failed with equal desperation — to pluck AA batteries from their plastic cradles. My vision flits in and out. My muscles twitch with myoclonic spasms. I… hear things.

I hear the heretical hymns and blasphemous songs of a thousand insane toys.

I hear them when I wake.

I hear them when I sleep.

I no longer can distinguish between day and night, between up and down.

I have gone mad.

* * *

As it was the child’s first Christmas, that meant that everyone felt inclined to Go Big Or Go Home in terms of providing the tiny human with gifted amusement. That includes us, of course — we, too, procured for him a bounty of entertainment even though he’s got the attention span of an epileptic cricket and frankly is capable of achieving maximum delight from Tupperware containers, paper towels, or his own wriggling feet.

That said, buying toys for a new child is everybody’s right, and I’d dare not rob anyone of that pleasure.

The bounty included such plastic idols of childish wonder as:

Blocks; balls; some kind of baby-sized faux-laptop; Elmo; a talking puppy; an electronic plastic “book;” a learning station that features such disparate items as a phone and a book and a piano and, I dunno, an autopsy station or something; a thing that might be best described as a “musical lawnmower;” another set of blocks; rings; wibbly-wobbly bean-shaped things; and so forth.

This is all wonderful and we are of course thankful to have these things.

It’s just…

You need to understand:

These things all make noise.

They all make noise.


The blocks squeak! The balls rattle! The puppy barks and talks about his ear and his feet and his paw and tells the baby he loves him! The book sings songs and barks and meows and baa’s and bleeps and blorps! Everything is a cacophony of saxophones and ABCs and 123s and and bings and dings and ringing phones and chimes and rhymes and timing tones and next thing you know your ears are bleeding and you’ve developed this tic and you smell the stink of burning flowers before you fugue out and stab the mailman.

* * *

The toys, they are impatient.

And they reward impatience, reveling in it.

B-Dub, he likes to crawl around and lay resplendent amongst his booty, flailing his limbs so that his hand punches one toy and his leg kicks another and then he’ll flop up and over like a breaching whale and crash his head into another toy.  Each punch-kick-headbutt elicits a brand new sound. But the sounds will gladly interrupt other sounds — just as one is beginning to dig into a chorus of the ABCs or Hey Diddle Diddle, the baby hits another button and then another sound or song begins. And trust me, these things are All Buttons. Every little widget and hinge and plastic nubbin does something — every tiny insubstantial movement or event sets off a chain reaction of musical bedlam. If the baby just breathes near one of them it’s suddenly lighting up like a fucking rocket booster and singing some song about a happy froggy.

It sings the song of madness. Our house sounds like this:

Hey diddle diddle the cat and the —



A B C D E F —

Meow! Meow! Meow!

*guitar riff*

I Love You!

Mary had a little —

Ruff ruff!


Hey diddle —

Yellow foot!

*saxophone smooth jazz*

It’s learning time!

It’s learning —

It’s learn —

Ruff ruff!

And meanwhile it’s all lights and vibrations and suddenly I’m starting to stroke out and wonder, “Sweet Christ on a Crumbly Cracker, is this why kids have ADD?” Then I wipe the nosebleed and pass out.

* * *

If you leave the toys alone long enough, they get… angry.

They’re like the toys from Toy Story: they demand to be played with. Each toy addicted to play, fun-junkies who just can’t get enough, man. The toy phone will ring, tell you it has a call. The book will beg to be opened, beg to be played with, hungry for storytime. The puppy wants the baby to know: I love you, baby who I just met yesterday, baby who’s name I don’t know, baby who punches me and bites me and who later ignores me, I love you so much I’d kill for you.

You turn the puppy off and he goes silent.

But even the slightest vibration returns him to life.

You sneeze two rooms away and the puppy’s back.

I love you, you hear.

The toy, talking to nobody.

It’s a trap, you think.

* * *

One rhyme:

“Ring around the rosie / The doggy chase the kitty / Husha, husha / We all fall down.”

What the fuck is that?

What happened to the pocket full of goddamn posies?

Rosie and Kitty don’t rhyme!

…or maybe they do.

Maybe I’ve just lost my mind.

*blubber whimper sob*

* * *



Ring around the rosie

Ding ding ding

Riiiiiing riiiiing

Open! Close!

Ruff Ruff

Ear! Blue ear!

Elmo sleepy.

Up! Down!






It’s learning time!

Ruff ruff!

* * *

All the while, as the chorus of mirth and madness plays on, the baby is hyper-crawling his way toward anything that’s not actually a toy. For all the bounty that exists, he’s happy trying to eat a ball of lint or head-butt the couch. Or, best of all, track down the actual dog, a dog who he perhaps loves more than anything in this world. I’m sure as my wife and I slowly descend into the caverns of lunacy, the boy will discover our drool-slick bodies supine on the floor and he will find great amusement in playing with our twitching fingers, our slackened jaws, our tightly-curled toesy-woesies.

And the toys will sing an electronic dirge to mark our mind-death.