Kickass Writer Winner!

Hey Gang,

Thank ye for thy patience. Supremely overloaded with Life and BEA and work stuff. So, here it is! Thank you to everyone who entered and provided me with entertainment and laughter and wishful thinking for future sitcoms with your storyifying Chuck.

Normally I let the d20 of Fate roll, but upon glimpsing this insanity, I had no choice but to reward the soul who wrote this. Without further ado, the winning entry from Matt Jackson:

“I would separate Chuck into four broad generalities of Chuck-ness and with each one replace a member of the bridge crew of Star Trek:TOS. Captain Cherk would be played by the Chuck some of us have been fortunate to meet, Real Life Chuck. Advising Captain R.L. Cherk is SpockChuck, the plotter, the portion of Chuck that writes outlines and would love it if love weren’t an emotion. SpockChuck is the analytical writing mind. The creative side, the part that lets him turn a colorful phrase involving the manner in which dogs procreate and how like or unlike one’s mother that may be is BonesChuck. Dammit, he’s a Penmonkey, not a glitter-strewn dildo-corn!

And of course down in engineering we have a certain other kind of Chuck we all know and love…the rest of the crew has nicknamed him Scotchy.

Uhura will be played by one Miriam Black herself. If Capt. Cherk tries any of that kissing bullshit she’ll cut off his balls with her switchblade and put him one those goddamned skirts.

(All apologies to Chuck Wendig and anyone else who reads this).”

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No apologies necessary, Matt! Congrats and thanks again to everyone who entered.

Keep an eye on this space for the final giveaway!

(And check out some of those comments, they are golden.)

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Reverse B-Day Giveaway: The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig

Welcome to week three, friends!

This week’s giveaway is a book near and dear to my cold, miserly writing heart. And it comes with a story, lucky you!

Last year on my birthday I was at the Book Expo of America or BEA, a huge gathering of bookish types showing off their new products for the summer and fall and beyond. Books as far as the eye could see! And one of my favorite writers, Chuck Wendig, was having a signing off at a little place in Brooklyn.

Beard Buddies 4 Eva
Beard Buddies 4 Eva

He and I had corresponded a little, so it was great to go and meet him at his signing, (along with other awesome authors and folks: John Hornor Jacobs, Joelle Charbonneau, their agent Stacia Decker, Mike Underwood and more!).

And upon meeting, Chuck actually took the time to listen to me prattle and ramble about my life and my writing, and was very supportive. And upon learning it was my birthday, he gave me a chocolate bar from his bag. Whaddaguy! Sure, it turned out to be a block of Bolivian tar, and I still catch glimpses of Things from the corner of my eye, but still, very generous of him.

kickass writer

So this week, in testament to his awesomeness, I am giving away a copy of his writing book, The Kick-Ass Writer to one lucky soul. Filled with over a thousand tips and tricks, Chuck will help steer you in the right direction and become the Kick-Ass writer you always knew you could be!

To enter, simply comment below, and answer me this:

Chuck’s online persona is one of immense adventure, cursing, vitriol, glee and caffeinated wisdom. If you could replace any character in fiction with Chuck Wendig, what character would it be? Would he be Luke Skywalker’s whiskey-drinking Jedi mentor? Or perhaps, a super caffeinated Indiana Jones hoping to find lost Penmonkey Treasure?

Tell me what story you would want to see Chuck in, and what would happen to enter!

Flight Reviews

Thought I’d get the ball rolling with some quick reviews of the books I read while going to, staying there, and coming back from Ukraine. You’d think four books would be more than enough. I underestimated myself and finished before I came back. That was one long ass flight with no new reading material.

Anyway . . .

among others

Among Others by Jo Walton – (Finished on the plane ride there, next to a guy who I don’t think liked me):

There was so much excitement and buzz for this book, which only grew as it claimed such awards as the Nebula and Hugo. I had picked it up a while back, and figured it was time to see what the hype was about. I was not disappointed at all. A story about a young girl, trying to pick up the pieces of her life after the death of her twin sister by their twisted witch of a mother, Mor has to get used to a life with a father she never knew, in a city she doesn’t want to live in, at a school where she doesn’t really like anyone and not many people like her. But, as with us readers, she finds comfort in her books, in trying to parse out the magic of the world around us, and works to find a medium between the world she has to live in and the worlds she’d rather live in. Deftly written in a diary fashion, with deep insights into sf/fantasy literature of the times, it is a book filled with magical realism, bildungsromanish questing, and literary criticism all at the same time. Hell, I could and will write a whole post on this book. Regardless, if you’re a reader who takes joy in their books, know that Among Others will reach you to your core and speak to you in a language you’ve known all your life but didn’t know you spoke.

The cormorantThe Cormorant by Chuck Wendig – (Finished middle of the week, read on buses, trains and more forms of transportation):

For those of you have read this blog before, you should know that I love Chuck Wendig with a fiery and totally normal passion. (SHUT UP IT IS NORMAL). His Miriam Black books have always been a pulse-pounding, dark romp through an urban fantasy nightmare with everyone’s favorite swearing, smoking, shattered mirror of a heroine, Miriam Black, and The Cormorant is no exception. It is as thrilling, as breath taking, as vicious and violent and compelling as the others in the series. For two books now, Miriam has been fighting against fate, has found ways of giving destiny the bird and going for its throat. In The Cormorant, Destiny starts pushing back. Not only does Chuck give us his signature gut wrenching, laugh out loud, black humor prose, and moments of horror that would make Stephen King blush, he starts to pull back the curtain on the world he’s made, and starts to show us the guts, the inner workings. The Cormorant is another homerun for Chuck, and I can’t wait to see where he takes us in the next installment, Thunderbird.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – (finished while traveling through the inner workings of Ukraine, across field and stone and stream and then a hostel):

Have you read Prince of Thorns? No? The hell is wrong with you? Go do that.

King of Thorns

Done? Good. See, wasn’t it great?

Mark Lawrence brings us back to the world of Prince Jorg and his iron clad dedication in becoming Emperor, but not before bringing a very slow and delicious vengeance upon those who deserve it. Set up with his own kingdom at the end of Prince, King of Thorns burrows deeper into Jorg’s brilliant but fractured psyche, as he plots, kills, and pushes back against the forces arrayed against him, and continues to walk the bloody road to the throne. Weaving back and forth, between reality and dream and memory, past and present and just a touch of future, Lawrence brings all his talent to the sharp prose and dangerous world of Prince Jorg and his merry, malicious men. Most fascinating to me, again, a whole other blog post in itself, is how Lawrence straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy just so, giving us a world that is so broken, it doesn’t remember itself anymore. I can’t spoil too much, but suffice to say, it is one of the strongest and most clever bits of worldbuilding I’ve seen. Going to dive into the final installment soon and I’m standing on literal pins and needles to find out how it all ends.

Probably in blood. Maybe fire. Most likely both.

deathlessDeathless by Cat Valente – (started the morning of the last day, finished on the first hour of the last flight of the last day):

Ah, Cat Valente. If you mixed a quill with King Midas, you’d have Cat Valente, a writer whose very touch turns a story to gold. Deathless has been lauded by the sff community and after devouring it in one sitting, I can see why. It follows the story of a young girl, Marya, who is brought into the world of Koschei the Deathless, Tsar of Life, first as a lover, then a general, and then a traitor. She becomes involved in not just the struggle of Life against Death, but also the Communist regime, that seeps into her town and devours everything it touches. Deftly mixing worlds of story and reality, (or are they the same?), Deathless is a triumph of writing: story, plot, character, magic, history and more. It especially spoke to me, as I had just immersed myself in Eastern Europe for the better part of a week. Seeing mentions of varenyky and vodka and Kyiv, only made me sigh deeper, made me remember my time in Ukraine. A wonderful book by a wonderful writer, Deathless is an experience every reader should have.

Hey, You, Read This: The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

Welcome to Hey, You, Read This, my new weekly, book review column.

And what better book to start off this column then with the insane, twisted, wonderful book The Blues Blazes by the captain of penmonkeys, the wise wizard of word-slinging, Mr. Chuck Wendig!

The blue blazes

Chuck, writer of the novels Blackbirds, Mockingbird, Dinocaplypse Now, Double Dead, with many before and forthcoming, (because he is surely a writing robot who has learned to love humanity), is best known for his hard and fast writing: it hits like a double shot of whiskey and espresso, speeds along like a Deleorean pushing 88mph, and burns like a . . . like a something on fire. (Shut up).

Chuck has a writing voice all his own: it is sincere but uncompromising, exotic but familiar, and even at its most absurd, will still pull your heart strings with its honesty.

And in a story about a man who loves his delicate meats like he loves crushing goblin skulls, who’s built like a brick shithouse with a heart of tarnished gold, that’s what is important: the emotional resonance.

Mookie the Meatman. Mookie the Mook. Mookie Pearl. Kneebreaker, Blue Blazer, Meat connoisseur. Working for the Organization, he keeps the Underworld in line, human and gobbo alike. Chuck has always been interested in broken people and seeing how they build themselves back up, (or tear themselves back down). And while you may find some echo of Miriam Black’s crass badittude in Mookie, that’s where it ends. Mookie is a boulder of a man, keeping a tight lid on anything that isn’t rage or intimidation or gruff humor. He’s a tired man, on the edge, and it’s his wayward daughter, Nora, looking to take down the Organization that will finally push him over the edge. Chuck does a beautiful job of breaking down Mookie over the course of the novel, showing just enough to let us know what drove this once successful young Sandhog, down the dark path he walks now.

Chuck Wendig

Just as he does with Mookie, Chuck explores the heart and soul of his spurned daughter, and little by little, we learn what makes her tick. By the end, there relationship and the end of the world are threaded together tightly, and the payoff is bittersweet and wonderful. And while all of the characters sing in this book, it is especially the relationship between Mookie and Nora that drives the story and will keep you turning the page.

Well that, and Burnsey. And the mystical drugs. And Skelly, badass rollerblading gang leader. And-and-and MONSTERSANDMAGICANDEXPLOSIONSAND –. . . ahem, well, you’ll see.

As always, Wendig’s worldbuilding is top notch. Playing with various concepts of the Underworld, Wendig lets his dangerous imagination run wild across The Blue Blazes. Gobbos, Snakefaces, Half and Halfs, The Five Occulted Pigments, and many more mystical horrors lurk within the depths of The Blue Blazes. I was drawn in by all of it, and I’m desperately hoping that there is a follow-up to this book, if only to learn more about the world Chuck has built, unlock some of the secrets he has teased the reader with.

If you’re not reading Chuck’s work (his many novels, short stories, writing advice, Twitter page, mad scrawling on the wall of his writing prison), you’re doing yourself a disservice. His stories are like a bullet to the brain in their ferocity, but they have a strength of heart that’s unprecedented. The Blue Blazes is one such book, and succeeds on every level. Story, plot, character, action, worldbuilding, all of them blend together for a delicious story smoothie. A passionate writer produces powerful work and that’s exactly what Chuck has done in The Blue Blazes.

You can find him scrawling madly at Terrible Minds.

CHUCK

And for your viewing pleasure, Chuck and I, together, being bearded and fantastic, pointing at one another as if to say, “Hey, he’s got a beard too!”