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Chuck Under Microscope

2011 In The Rearview, 2012 In The Mirror Of My Shades

Looking back, staring forward. Standing on this head-of-the-pin moment between two years — an arbitrary distinction, perhaps, from when one calendar becomes useless and a new one must be hung, but a distinction just the same and a fine enough moment to pause and reflect.

Personally, it’s been a good year. Nah, fuck that, it’s been a great year.

Double Dead hit shelves. And is, I’m told, selling well. Well enough where — well, I won’t spoil any of that news right now, but oh, there shall be news. Blackbirds and its protagonist, Miriam Black, found a home after a small but confidence-boosting bidding war, and now sits comfortably nestled in the arms of an Angry Robot. Further, it has a jaw-dropping cover that still geeks me out to this day. (You can totally read the first chapter of that book at the Angry Robot site, by the by.) The transmedia project I co-wrote with Lance Weiler, Collapsus, got nominated for an International Digital Emmy. Our short film, Pandemic (watch here!) was at Sundance and continues to get lots of attention.

I also self-published this year — six books starting last January. Sales have, on the whole, been excellent. Curiously, they’re weakest for my fictional offerings. Shotgun Gravy sold well in the beginning but has since tapered off — I’ve got Bait Dog waiting in the wings to receive a good clean polish, but I want to see if I can get some more readers on board with Atlanta Burns #1 first. We’ll see.

I read some fucking awesome books, too. I’m a picky finicky dickhead of a reader, but this year has been a bounty of great books –Robert McCammon’s The Five and Hunter In The Woods; Christa Faust’s Money Shot and Choke Hold and Hoodtown; Adam Christopher’s Empire State; Anthony Neil Smith’s Choke On Your Lies; Duane Swierzcynski’s Fun and Games; Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City; Matthew McBride’s Frank Sinatra In A Blender; Matt Forbeck’s Carpathia; John Hornor’s Southern Gods; Stephen Blackmoore’s City of the Lost and Dead Things (the bad-ass sequel, and it’s a toss up as to whether it or Zoo City were my year’s favorite reads). Certainly some I’m missing.

Of course, the biggest and craziest and most wonderful thing was the birth of this little dude:

The boy is a constant source of amusement and adoration, and even when he’s not sleeping or karate kicking me in the trachea or accidentally drooling into my open mouth (seriously, that just happened the other day), he’s an endless delight and so cute he’ll turn even the hardest charcoal hearts into a big gooey wad of marshmallow fluff. We love him very much. I mean, duh.

Of course, a month before my son was born and a few days after my birthday, my dog of 13 years, Yaga, passed away. That was hard on us and sometimes, still is (I had a dream the other night I was playing with him in the snow — both a wonderful dream to have, and sad to wake up from and realize that it wasn’t quite true), and it was strange that in the span of a single month my dog died and my son was born. Parity and opposition: life and death in all its finery.

Not everything worked out perfectly. The television pilot officially fell through with TNT, and our film project has momentum, but it’s the momentum of a slowly-rolling kickball rather than the pinball’s swiftness we’d hope for. Almost had an LA agent; that didn’t quite click. Some friendships were made stronger this year. Some were decidedly not. Life progresses just the same.

I’ve said in the past and I’ll say again: I don’t truck with regret. Regret is perhaps one of the most worthless emotions we have as humans — we are who we are and all the moments and choices and happenstance has formed the equation that adds up to the sum of us. For good or bad, for better or for worse. Like who you are? Keep on keeping on. Don’t like it? Change something. But don’t get mired in regret. Your boots will get stuck there and you soon start to realize that it has no value, offers no function. Regret doesn’t let you rewrite anything. You don’t get a mulligan. It’s one thing to find a lesson and to learn from it, but regret is something altogether more insidious and, at the same time, worthless.

So, fuck regret in the ear with a meerschaum pipe. Mostly because I wanted to say “meerschaum.”

Onward, then, to 2012.

What will that bring?

Well, I can’t know for sure.

Blackbirds and its sequel, Mockingbird, will land.

I’ll continue to self-publish. I’ve got a novel — a creepy li’l something called The Altar — that begs to have the DIY treatment, I think. The outline is done, I just need to write it. (I make it sound so easy! Yeah. No.)

I’m almost halfway through Dinocalypse Now, the Spirit of the Century novel for Evil Hat. It features love triangles and professorial apes and psychic dinosaur goodness. It’s a challenge to write, honestly — a good challenge, but a challenge just the same.

Speaking of Evil Hat, I’ve got a wealth of stories in from the Don’t Rest Your Head anthology, called Don’t Read This Book. Got some great authors on that one, so keep your grapes peeled.

I’ve got more plans for the website (Kickstarter, quite possibly) and for some other writing books that both do and do not come out of posts here on the blog.

More to come, more to come.

Thanks all for coming here and making for a great 2011.

Here’s to 2012, then.

What’s on your agenda for the new year?

December Is The Month Of No Mercy (And Other News!)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, writer-types.

It’s the month of December and as a gift I’m going to give you:

My boot in your ass and my fist in your trachea.

It’s time to wipe the bullshit from our faces and squeeze all our little excuses so hard their heads pop off one by one. We will exterminate our worst writerly habits with a Dalek-like enthusiasm.

And by “our” bullshit, excuses and bad habits, I also mean my bullshit, excuses, and bad habits.

So! Consider this the annual “cleaning of the pipes,” the yearly “let’s get shut of nonsense,” the month of “fuck you, get to work” before we sashay our holiday-swollen hips into the shining light of the New Year.

If there’s anything you want me in particular to talk — er, yell — about, let me know now.

Now: onto other news!

December E-Book Promo

500 WAYS TO BE A BETTER WRITER is, quite honestly, doing very well for itself. And the “lists of 25” continue to draw in readers, so I’m assuming people like them and don’t find them overbearing. (Or, if they do, they’re at least amusingly overbearing?) (I originally mistyped that as “overbearding,” which is not possible — you can go overboard, but you cannot go overbeard. True story!)

So, I’d like to keep that momentum going.

If you procure 500 WAYS TO BE A BETTER WRITER during the entire month of December, I’ll throw in 250 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WRITING as a free PDF.

If you buy 500 WAYS as a PDF, this freebie will be automagic — I’ll email it to you accordingly.

If you buy 500 WAYS via Amazon or B&N, then you’ll need to email me proof-of-purchase at terribleminds at gmail dot com. Because, despite my deepest efforts, I am not yet psychic.

(Also, 500 WAYS could totally use more reviews at Amazon, B&N or GoodReads, if anybody is so kind and inclined? No pressure or anything. Ignore the gun at the small of your back. Shhhh.)


$2.99 at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), B&N, PDF


We have hot new tasty blurbage for BLACKBIRDS (which is, as you know, available for pre-order, right?) from some incredible people which I am eager and excited to share —

“Trailer-park tension, horrified hilarity, and sheer terror mixed with deft characterization and razor plotting. I literally could not put it down.”

— Lilith Saintcrow, author of Night Shift and Working for the Devil

“Blackbirds is a horror story, a traveling story, a story of loss and what it takes to make things right. It’s a story about fate and how sometimes, if we wrestle with it hard enough, maybe we can change it. Blackbirds is the kind of book that doesn’t let go even after you’ve put it down and nobody else could have made it shine like Chuck Wendig.”

— Stephen Blackmoore, author, City of the Lost and Dead Things

“Mean, moody and mysterious, Blackbirds is a noir joyride peppered with black humour, wry observation, and visceral action. Fans of Chuck Wendig will not be disappointed.”

— Adam Christopher, author of Empire State

“Balls-to-the-wall, take-no-prisoners storytelling at its best.”

— Bill Cameron, author of County Line

“[Blackbirds is] A gleefully dark, twisted road trip for everyone who thought Fight Club was too warm and fuzzy. If you enjoy this book, you’re probably deeply wrong in the head. I loved it, and will be seeking professional help as soon as Chuck lets me out of his basement.”

— James Moran, Severance, Doctor Who and Torchwood screenwriter

“Enchanting and drowned in blood, BLACKBIRDS is a meaty piece of fiction, a non-stop mind-job where the first hit hurts and you keep going back for more. It’s the kind of gritty, unapologetic story that grips you long after the book’s done; dark, intense, utterly without mercy. Chuck Wendig spins one hell of a tale.”

— Karina Cooper, author of the Dark Mission series

Other Workity-Jerkity

The first draft of MOCKINGBIRD is complete, and the second draft is actually almost in the can. It takes Miriam on a deeper journey into the heart of her gift-slash-curse. Of course, most of you haven’t even read BLACKBIRDS yet, but when you do, I think you’ll eat up the horror with a silver spoon. Oh! It looks like the second book’s release date is moved up, actually — now Aug/Sept 2012 rather than “sometime in 2013.”

I’m told that DOUBLE DEAD is doing well for Abaddon, which is nice! I’ve heard tell that some folks would like the story of Coburn the vampire to continue, and between you, me, and the starving raccoon in the corner, I’m hoping that such a thing will soon become a reality. Feel free to tell Abaddon — “Hey, that Chuck guy? We sure do like him a bunch. Here, have some candy. Get in the van. GET IN THE GODDAMN VAN.”

I’m receiving some killer stories from the assigned authors of the DON’T REST YOUR HEAD anthology. So far, my editorial job will be a very light one, indeed.

I’m revising the opening chapters of DINOCALYPSE NOW, my Spirit of the Century novel — I found a way to better connect to the characters and give them a stronger emotional throughline.

I’ve got a second round of notes on POPCORN back from uber-agent Stacia Decker, and I’m excited to push them forward — think it’ll really become the book I envisioned it becoming. (Never underestimate the awesome power of editorial criticism to refine a story and highlight paths you wish were obvious all along.)

Next week I speak to the Writer’s Guild in NYC, joining Lance Weiler for a day-long talk on transmedia.

Further opportunities continue to line up for 2012, all of which are filled with nougat and custard and other delightful flavors.  Novels and a new film idea and some cool transmedia endeavors.

And 2012 will surely see new e-books. Hopefully one of those will be the follow-up to SHOTGUN GRAVY — but if you want that, then I need you to spread the word and help get the book to readers.

Finally, thinking on doing a Kickstarter to keep terribleminds running in 2012.

And that’s all she wrote, kids.

How are you doing?

Get Your Pointy Teeth And Practice Your Zombie Shuffle: It’s Double Dead Day!

Purchase as book or e-book at:

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

Barnes & Noble


It’s the 15th of November.

Which means that Coburn the vampire is here.

Poor, poor Coburn. Once the king of his castle — his castle being New York City — he awakens from slumber to discover that his city and his world have been gobbled up by a zombie apocalypse.

Most of the humans are dead.

Which means his food source is spoiled. Vampire can’t live on dead blood, after all.

And so the vampire must move from predator to protector, a shepherd who must find a food source and stand vigil over the herd. It’s not an easy transition, of course. The monster is still a monster, after all.

(This ain’t Twilight, folks. Only way Coburn glitters is if he kills and eats a stripper.)

Along the way, what will he discover about the world? About the girl he protects? And about himself?

Gotta read it to find out.

A vampire in zombieland.


A teenage girl with a healing gift!

Zombie evolution!

Wal-Mart cannibals!

An army of Route 66 Juggalos!

A little white terrier named “Creampuff!”

And, of course, one cranky-ass cocky fuck of a vampire: Coburn.

Please to enjoy, folks.

Transmissions From Baby-Town: “The Face Of My Father”

It happens once a day, maybe.

My son will be looking at me — he’s five-and-a-half-months now, you see — and then comes this moment. It’s not one thing: it’s the alchemy of muscle movements, facial tics, of whatever unseen elements constitute our faces. All of it adds up to a single sum, an equation answered by my father’s face. Staring back at me.

It’s pretty weird, seeing your father’s face. In infant form. It’s like seeing a ghost. A ghost that has taken over my baby — but then you realize, that’s not it, that’s not right at all. The ghost hasn’t taken over my baby.

This is my baby.

Holy shit.

I mean, it makes sense, of course. Genetically, the baby is in part the product of me and I am the product of my father and By The Mighty Scepter Of Science I conclude that, yes, indeed, it totally tracks that certain physical traits will make themselves known over the course of our lives. It goes deeper than that, however. Our faces are more than just the features. It’s more than just a delicate twining of DNA spawning certain recurrent elements. This equation has imaginary numbers.

Here’s what I mean:

When my father passed away, I was present. And when he died, I knew he was gone — no longer present — before any of the signs and signals were made clear. It wasn’t merely the slackening of features — you could tell that something had gone. Poof. Vanished into the ether. I don’t mean to suggest you have to believe in a soul, but just the same, life is different from death (a-duh), and so when life vacates the body, the body changes. The body and the face become reflective of that inert state.

Life has left the building.

The body, given up the ghost.

But now sometimes I see the ghost — my father’s life — on my son’s face. The way he moves his nose. Or the way he smiles. My father used to get this puckish grin on his face — curiously, the same look I sometimes saw on my grandmother’s face, even after she had her stroke — and now there it lives, sometimes floating to the surface on this cute round little baby head. Again, I don’t know that you can even pinpoint it.

It’s just… there.

I have it in me, too. Maybe not the face. I don’t look at myself often enough to see it. But I hear it. In my voice, in my words. Something in the tone or tenor. Word choice, maybe. (My father, after all, is where my love of profanity was born. He celebrated profanity, and now I do, too, for better or for worse.)

I’m named after my father.

My first name is his.

My first name and his first name is also my son’s middle name.


It’s too early to see how else or how often that glimmer of my father will appear in my son — maybe it’ll come and go and then leave for a time, or maybe it’ll always be there. My son is strong. Independent and stubborn. Like my father and, perhaps to a lesser degree, like me. He’s already good with his hands — my father worked with his hands. Maybe I’m just making all this up. Perhaps I’m hungry to see connections that aren’t there. That’s what some will say. That’s what some will think. Maybe they’re right.

Maybe they’re just assholes.

Who knows?

What I know is, I’m sad my father never knew my son. While the last thing I want to think about is my son one day passing on, but perhaps some day long and far away from here and now the two of them will travel together in the great Happy Hunting Ground up in the sky. Some of the things my father taught me, I’ll teach my son. Some of the things he taught me, I won’t. But other things I can’t stop and don’t want to stop. The ghost lives on. The ghost persists. The soul — or whatever that passes for it, whatever uncertain and spectral vehicle is the thing that carries that ember of life, that living mask, that visage as unique as a fingerprint — is here in my son’s eyes and smile and in the shape of his nose.

And I’m happy for that. It’s the only way he’ll know his grandfather.

That, and the stories we’ll tell.

Putting the name and the life to the face.

Filling in the ghost.

Happy birthday, Dad. You would’ve been 68, today, I think.

Go bag a great big heavenly elk and use his antlers to fight the Devil and give him what-for.

500 Ways To Be A Better Writer

Hungry for another double-barrel buckshot of questionable writing wisdom unloaded into your brain-guts? Ohhh, I have just the thing for you, my little ink-fingered word-cobblers.

Available today: 500 WAYS TO BE A BETTER WRITER.

At present, the book is $0.99 — but! That price will go up after one week (around Wednesday November 9th) to $2.99. Those who buy the PDF now are able to select a “pay what you want” price ($0.99, $1.99, $2.99) if you care to pay more for the book. Absurd? Maybe. But you’d be surprised at how often it happens that folks tell me they want to pay more than a buck for books like this. Consider it an experiment!

[Please note: current sale is over!]

Okay, let’s get our procurement options on the table:




(A note about buying direct: if you buy direct, I send you the file — er, directly! — via email. This is generally very fast unless extenuating circumstances prevent this. Like, say, if I’m asleep. Or if Paypal delays sending me the head’s up. Or if I experience a massive power outage. You’ll generally have your file within an hour, unless it’s at night, at which point you’ll have it very early in the morning.)

What The Hell Is This?

This is the sequel to 250 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WRITING, and, as many sequels go, this one is bigger and badder — twice the size, in fact, of its predecessor.

It features 20 “Lists of 25” from the blog-bound pages of this very site.

What lists, you say? Well, here’s what’s in it:

Prologue: 25 Things You Should Know About Writing Advice

25 Questions To Ask As You Write

25 Reasons You Won’t Finish That Story

25 Things You Should Know About Endings

25 Things You Should Know About Mood

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo

25 Things You Should Know About Queries, Synopses And Treatments

25 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing

25 Things You Should Know About Social Media

25 Things You Should Know About Theme

25 Things You Should Know About Writing Horror

25 Virtues Writers Should Possess

25 Ways To Be A Better Writer

25 Ways To Defeat Writer’s Block

25 Ways To Fuck With Your Characters

25 Ways To Make Exposition Your Bitch

25 Ways To Plot, Plan And Prep Your Story

The Life Cycle Of A Novel (In 25 Steps)

Appendix 1: 25 Sleep-Deprived And Also Drunken Thoughts On Writing

Appendix 2: 25 Brief-But-Hopefully-Potent Writing Exercises

Now, four of those are brand new and are not found here at terribleminds — Endings; Mood; Sleep-Deprived And Also Drunken Thoughts; and the writing exercises.

All told, it’s around 50,000 words of total content.

None of it is replicated from 250 THINGS.

Why Buy?

Because this is a mega-explosion of thinking and talking about writing.

Got a big bad case of the writer’s block? Exposition a barnacle-crusted colostomy bag around your hip? Don’t know how to cinch that perfect ending, or describe that perfect mood? Doing NaNoWriMo and want a little something-something, some idea-coal for the story-furnace? Or maybe you just want to hear my drunken ramblings about writing? If any of those apply, then this might just be the book for you. Plus, like I said — for the next week, it’s naught but a dollar.

Alternately, maybe you want to support the blog. Maybe you say, “Hey, I come here every week and Wendig hoses me down and delouses my writer-fed delusions and I come away smelling of rye whiskey and — quite curiously — butterscotch, so why wouldn’t I want to throw a couple coins into the ol’ terribleminds coffers?”

Or — or! — maybe you say, “Well, a ding-dang-doo, that is one cute baby. I would love a guilt-soaked appeal to whatever instincts drive an adult’s need to protect a tiny big-eyed human, and if I can contribute money toward this kid’s diapers-and-college fund, then that makes me feel warm inside, like freshly-baked bread.” See? There he is, all dressed as Babyzilla. And, apparently, pointing at his crotch. So much like his father! Which is, uhh, presumably me? I do often dress like a monster and run around town pointing out my crotch, so I’d say the bloodline has manifested itself elegantly.

Those are just three potential reasons to procure this e-book.

Other reasons might include:

A love of profanity!

Syphilitic insanity!

A hatred of money and so you must spend it as fast as you get it!

A zealous love for all things self-published!

An obsessive and ever-mounting collection of e-books!

The beard! THE BEARD!

And so on.

If you procure? Then you have my thanks. If you don’t nab a copy? I definitely do not wish a plague of bed-bugs upon your home. That would be rude of me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to read this book of ancient hexes. Whyfor? Oh. Uhhh. What? No reason. Just buy the book already.

Penmonkey Status Report

Okay, first thing out of the gate is —


If I could bedazzle that, make it pulse, blink, throw in a bunch of interrobangs, have the letters get up and work-it work-it on the stripper pole, Sweet Molly McGoggins, I would. Because it’s a helluva cover.

I’m a lucky dude with a cover like that.

Miriam Black, realized.

Oh so many tiny images contained within that one. Beautiful. Beautiful!

And a cover like that is thanks to the Mighty Artification Powers of Joey Hi-Fi, who also did the award-winning cover to Lauren Beukes’ ZOO CITY (a book if you haven’t read, you need to correct ASAMFP).

Bow down to him.

Thanks to the mighty bibliomantium overlords at Angry Robot for making such a killer cover happen.

Writing Advice Snidbit

Right quick, I posted this on the Twittertubes and the Google-Doubleplusgoods yesterday, and so I thought I’d just pop it up here as a tiny li’l snidbit of dubious writing wisdom:

When writing a 1st draft, duck your head low and bolt for the finish line. Don’t stop. Don’t blink. Follow the map far as it takes you.

Know that the book will be born during rewrites. When you break its carapace and find the true beast beneath the old ruined skin.

It’s okay when your map, the plan, the outline, fails you. That’s good. Sometimes roads are closed for a reason. Don’t freeze. Keep writing.

Remember: slow and steady wins the race when rocking that first draft. Even 1k a day gets you your draft in under three months.

Also, something-something-porn-whiskey-dopamine-killyourdarlings-cthulhu-fthnagn-poop-noise. Now shut up and write.

Do with that as thou wilt. Share! Discuss! Debate! Dispute!

Allonsy, Alonzo!

Why I Write

LA Gilman pointed out that today is, apparently, the National Day Of Writing, and so you can head over to Twitter and use the hashtag #whyiwrite to, well, describe why you write.

For me, it’s simple:

Writing is how I tell stories, and telling stories is how I communicate myself to the world. I am my stories and my stories are me and just as civilizations used mythology to explain themselves and their world, I use storytelling and writing to explain myself and my world, and transmit that idea via the penmonkey frequency to all who care to intercept it. That is, of course, the philosophical side.

The practical side is, Mommy gets a what-what and needs money, and writing is how I get that money. Sorry to crass it up with commerce, but trust me, writing is a pretty fangasmic way of earning a living.

Hop over to Twitter or tell us in the comments:

Why do you write?

Penmonkey Incitement Level Up Ding!

Holy crap, the Penmonkey Incitement is up to 442/1000 copies of COAFPM sold.

Which means we crossed the 400 mark.

Which means I need to give away:

Another postcard.

Another t-shirt.

Another penmonkey critique of someone’s writing.

It also means that after another 58 sales, I’m going to give away a Kindle.

I’m going to wait until tomorrow morning, at this time (9AM EST) to pick the winners, thus giving you folks a chance to get your names into the hat if you haven’t already. Diggit?

So, to those who have procured the book via PDF: you don’t need to do anything.

Those who have procured it via Amazon or B&N, well, you need to make sure I know about it. Send me proof of purchase to terribleminds at gmail dot com.

Also be advised that buying CONFESSIONS or REVENGE OF THE PENMONKEY during the month of October also earns you a free copy of 250 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WRITING. Again, though, if you bought via Amazon or B&N, you need to contact me at the above email address to make sure I know you bought it. I ain’t psychic.

Ch-Chak, Boom! Shotgun Gravy Has Arrived

I’m sure you noticed this, but SHOTGUN GRAVY arrived on Amazon, B&N, and here at terribleminds.

As of this moment, I’ve crossed the 100 sales mark, which is where I hoped to be. The first day was a little tepid but I think that’s because it was a Friday (and a Friday in which a new iPhone dropped — hell, half the day I was trying to get mine activated, so I get it). I’ve gotten emails and tweets from people who seem to not just like it, but really love it, which is overwhelmingly awesome. The story means a lot to me and I hope people take a chance on it.

If it sells steadily, I’d say BAIT DOG is a good bet for December-ish.

If sales hit the wall — well, who knows?

If you find my promos of SHOTGUN GRAVY ever get too loud (they will die back soon enough, I assure you), please poke me in the ribs and politely ask that I cool it down. It’s hard being a self-published author in particular because you’re forced to be a one-man-marketing-machine, and the line between “Helpful Advertising!” and “Annoying Spamfuck!” gets real blurry, real quick-like.

Obviously if you liked the book, please do leave a review and share with your friends how much you dug it.

Inner Views And Udder Links

Hey, look, ma, you can hear my voice at various places!

First up: The Mighty Maven Of Word-Making, Mur “The Murder” Lafferty interviews me over at her podcast, ISBW (I Should Be Writing). Check it out riiiiight here.

Second up: Sexy svelte storyteller extraordinaire J.C. “The Rabbit Hutch” Hutchins has me visit at his site where we dig into some transmedia chatter. Check that out at this underlined linky-thing.

If you have not read the first chapter of DOUBLE DEAD, then you will note that Flames Rising has posted that very thing. Want to preorder? Go right ahead. Coburn is coming.

I’ve got a story in THE NEW HERO (Vol I), featuring a thug enforcer for the quite-literal Underworld, Mookie “The Meatman” Pearl. Robin Laws edited, and Gene Ha did the cover:

…and if you look at the bottom row and see a big dude with a meat cleaver, that’s Mookie. It’s a story I’m really proud of and was a fuuuhuuuhuuuuuckin’ hoot to write. Hopefully the same to read.

I know, right? Two awesome covers in one day.

My khakis, they are shellacked.