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Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018


Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018


Happy birthday to me!!!!!!!!  Hey it's my birthday as I write this (not as you read this) so using this as my excuse for having just 1 book to tell you about. It's really not an excuse as I read/listen to other books but want/need to tell save those for another time. So enough with my explanations...what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018
As this the only book I read that I am going to tell you about you get a larger cover image.  Lucky you!

The Raptor & the Wren is book 5 of the Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig. While Miriam tries to figure out how to change her fate, fate decides to throw Miriam a few more curve balls. The story starts with Miriam back in her mother's Florida house, drinking too much and ripping off seniors as they lay dying. The former FBI agent Grosky turns up on the scene to let Miriam in on a few secrets and home truths. There is a copycat killer out there and they look just like Miriam, and kill just like Miriam and they are after Miriam. Time is running out. Miriam needs to figure out how to change her fate to save Louis, stop the killer and rid herself of her curse. Time is not on her side and it seems no one else is either, not even the Trespasser. It's a race against time and it's all up to Miriam.

The Raptor & the Wren is another fast paced instalment of the Miriam Black series. Miriam goes from one crisis to another and I really wish Wendig would give Miriam a break! Miriam's salvation seems almost as unachievable to the reader as it does to Miriam. There is just one catastrophe after another and I was almost convinced Miriam wouldn't make it to the last page.

In true Miriam Black fashion this book is geared towards fans of horror, which I have to admit I am not. I don't mind the odd gruesome scene if it enhances the plot or the characterisation. In the case of book 5 the horror was almost too much. There were a couple of chapters where I had to stop reading as it was either too early or too late for this much gore. However, I will give Wendig this...in amongst the blood, viscera and horror there are passages that are just short of poetic:
Darkness settles into the trees all around her. Oaks and pines. Thoughts of Louis stalk her like prey, and she has to keep ducking and running away from her own brain lest those thoughts catch her, pin her, consume her.
This is the reason why I continue with this series. I love how Wendig turns a genre I normally turn away from into something accessible and more beautiful in the process. I would be wrong however, to try to convince you that this is a book that you will look forward to reading. It isn't. It is hard and cruel and I'm almost glad that Vultures will be the 6th and final book in the series. I don't think either Miriam or I can take anymore!


That's it for me this week. More to come so drop by next week to read what I have been reading. Until then Happy Reading.





The Raptor & the Wren
Miriam Black 5
Saga Press, January 23, 2018
Trade Paperback, Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018
In the fifth book of the “wildly entertaining” (Kirkus Reviews) Miriam Black series, Miriam continues her journey to find answers on how to change her fate and begin to make right some of what she’s done wrong.

Armed with new knowledge that suggests a great sacrifice must be made to change her fate, Miriam continues her quest and learns that she must undo the tragedies of her past to move forward.

One such tragedy is Wren, who is now a teen caught up in a bad relationship with the forces that haunt Miriam and has become a killer, just like Miriam. Black must try to save the girl, but what’s ahead is something she thought impossible…




Previously

Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018
Blackbirds
Miriam Black 1
Saga Press, September 15, 2015
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Hardcover, 288 pages
eBook May 5, 2015

The first book in the Miriam Black series: “A sassy, hard-boiled thriller with a paranormal slant” (The Guardian) about a young woman who can see the darkest corners of the future.

Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die. This makes her daily life a living hell, especially when you can’t do anything about it, or stop trying to. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. She merely needs to touch you—skin to skin contact—and she knows how and when your final moments will occur. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But then she hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, and she sees in thirty days that Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and Miriam will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

“Think Six Feet Under co-written by Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk” (SFX), and you have Blackbirds: a visceral, exciting novel about life on the edge.





Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018
Mockingbird
Miriam Black 2
Saga Press, October 20, 2015
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Hardcover, 336 pages
eBook, May 5, 2015

Miriam Black is trying to live an ordinary life, keeping her ability to see how someone dies hidden...until a serial killer crosses her path. This is the second book in the Miriam Black series.

“Visceral and often brutal, this tale vibrates with emotional rawness that helps to paint a bleak, unrelenting picture of life on the edge.” —Publishers Weekly

Miriam is trying. Really, she is. But this whole “settling down thing” just isn’t working out.

She lives on Long Beach Island all year in a run-down, double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a checkout girl. And her relationship with Louis—who’s on the road half the time in his truck—is subject to the mood swings Miriam brings to everything she does. It just isn’t going well.

Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability—to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them—in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stopped up in a tiny bottle. Then comes the one bad day that turns it all on her ear.





Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018
The Cormorant
Miriam Black 3
Saga Press, February 23, 2016
Hardcover, Trade Paperback, 352 pages
eBook, May 5, 2015

In the third installment of the suspenseful Miriam Black series, Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from “thief” to “killer.”

Hired by a wealthy businessman, Miriam heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at: knowing when people are going to die. In her vision she sees the businessman murdered by another’s hand and on the wall written in blood is a message just for her:

She’s expected…






Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018
Thunderbird
Miriam Black 4
Saga Press, November 28, 2017
Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Hardcover and eBook, February 28, 2017

In the next installment of the suspenseful Miriam Black series, Miriam heads to the southwest in search of another psychic who may be able to help her understand her curse, but instead finds a cult of domestic terrorists and the worst vision of death she’s had yet.

Miriam is becoming addicted to seeing her death visions, but she is also trying out something new: Hope. She is in search of another psychic who can help her with her curse, but instead she experiences her deadliest vision to date in this latest “visceral and often brutal” (Publishers Weekly) series that is “wildly entertaining” (Kirkus Reviews).

Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig


Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig

One of my favorite authors has a book coming out later this month. I'm speaking of Chuck Wendig and The Raptor & the Wren.

A bit of background - the first Miriam Black novel, Blackbirds, was published in 2012 by Angry Robot who subsequently published 2 additional Miriam Black novels. The series was picked up by Saga Press who reissued the first 3 novels with new covers and has published the 4th Miriam Black novel, Thunderbird.

Later this month the 5th Miriam Black novel, The Raptor & the Wren, will be published by Saga. The final book in the series is titled Vultures. More on Vultures in the future.

For the completists among you, there is a Miriam Black short story in Three Slices along with stories by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne.


I asked Chuck "What are your thoughts on the impending publication of Book 5?"

Chuck:  Writing the penultimate book in a series is tough -- VULTURES is the sixth and final book and is out in January 2019 -- because you're setting up so much and pointing to the crest of the next hill from the crest of THIS hill. But to do it in a way where it's not just SETUP is necessary -- this book is very consequential for Miriam and has, let's just go with, a lot of twists and tests for her character." 

Find Chuck at terribleminds.com and on Twtter and Facebook.


Here is a look at the entire Miriam Black series so far. And look for Melanie's review of The Raptor & the Wren soon.



The Raptor & the Wren
Miriam Black 5
Saga Press, January 23, 2018
Trade Paperback, Hardcover and eBook, 288 pages

Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig
In the fifth book of the “wildly entertaining” (Kirkus Reviews) Miriam Black series, Miriam continues her journey to find answers on how to change her fate and begin to make right some of what she’s done wrong.

Armed with new knowledge that suggests a great sacrifice must be made to change her fate, Miriam continues her quest and learns that she must undo the tragedies of her past to move forward.

One such tragedy is Wren, who is now a teen caught up in a bad relationship with the forces that haunt Miriam and has become a killer, just like Miriam. Black must try to save the girl, but what’s ahead is something she thought impossible…




Previously

Blackbirds
Miriam Black 1
Saga Press, September 15, 2015
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Hardcover, 288 pages
eBook May 5, 2015

Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig
The first book in the Miriam Black series: “A sassy, hard-boiled thriller with a paranormal slant” (The Guardian) about a young woman who can see the darkest corners of the future.

Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die. This makes her daily life a living hell, especially when you can’t do anything about it, or stop trying to. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. She merely needs to touch you—skin to skin contact—and she knows how and when your final moments will occur. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But then she hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, and she sees in thirty days that Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and Miriam will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

“Think Six Feet Under co-written by Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk” (SFX), and you have Blackbirds: a visceral, exciting novel about life on the edge.




Mockingbird
Miriam Black 2
Saga Press, October 20, 2015
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Hardcover, 336 pages
eBook, May 5, 2015

Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig
Miriam Black is trying to live an ordinary life, keeping her ability to see how someone dies hidden...until a serial killer crosses her path. This is the second book in the Miriam Black series.

“Visceral and often brutal, this tale vibrates with emotional rawness that helps to paint a bleak, unrelenting picture of life on the edge.” —Publishers Weekly

Miriam is trying. Really, she is. But this whole “settling down thing” just isn’t working out.

She lives on Long Beach Island all year in a run-down, double-wide trailer. She works at a grocery store as a checkout girl. And her relationship with Louis—who’s on the road half the time in his truck—is subject to the mood swings Miriam brings to everything she does. It just isn’t going well.

Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability—to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them—in check. But even that feels wrong somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stopped up in a tiny bottle. Then comes the one bad day that turns it all on her ear.




The Cormorant
Miriam Black 3
Saga Press, February 23, 2016
Hardcover, Trade Paperback, 352 pages
eBook, May 5, 2015

Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig
In the third installment of the suspenseful Miriam Black series, Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from “thief” to “killer.”

Hired by a wealthy businessman, Miriam heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at: knowing when people are going to die. In her vision she sees the businessman murdered by another’s hand and on the wall written in blood is a message just for her:

She’s expected…




Thunderbird
Miriam Black 4
Saga Press, November 28, 2017
Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Hardcover and eBook, February 28, 2017

Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig
In the next installment of the suspenseful Miriam Black series, Miriam heads to the southwest in search of another psychic who may be able to help her understand her curse, but instead finds a cult of domestic terrorists and the worst vision of death she’s had yet.

Miriam is becoming addicted to seeing her death visions, but she is also trying out something new: Hope. She is in search of another psychic who can help her with her curse, but instead she experiences her deadliest vision to date in this latest “visceral and often brutal” (Publishers Weekly) series that is “wildly entertaining” (Kirkus Reviews).





Three Slices
    Delilah S. Dawson, Kevin Hearne and Chuck Wendig
May 5, 2015
eBook, 166 pages
Illustrated by Galen Dara

Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig
Three Slices presents three novellas by modern fantasy writers:

A Prelude to War by Kevin Hearne
After an old friend is murdered in retaliation for his mercenary strikes against the oldest vampires in the world, Atticus O'Sullivan must solicit the aid of another old friend in Ethiopia if he's going to have a chance of finishing a war he never wanted. Meanwhile, Granuaile MacTiernan starts a private war of her own against Loki, the lord of lies, and if it brings Ragnarok early—so be it.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys by Delilah S. Dawson
The number one rule of the circus? Don't kill your volunteers, even accidentally. That's how young magician Criminy Stain ends up on the run in a forest, where he meets a beautiful woman holding a bucket of blood. But is Merissa the answer to his prayers-- or the orchestrator of his ruin?

Interlude: Swallow by Chuck Wendig
Miriam Black is back. Miriam is tired of her curse and finally believes she knows how to be rid of her ability to see when and how other people die. She follows a lead to the mountains of Colorado, where she believes she sees signs of a serial killer she thought she already killed. (Set between THE CORMORANT and THUNDERBIRD.)

Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017



Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. After many green winters with last year being almost balmy, it finally snowed in England. Many of my colleagues were cheering as big fat flakes pelted down amongst even fatter freezing rain drops. They were incredulous that I wasn't excited about the thought of getting cold and wet. I had to listen to the accusations of 'but you're Canadian, you should be used to this'. It's a bit different trudging around in the snow in inappropriate footwear and an umbrella than it is to jump into a nice warm car and drive to your destination. Ho hum. Anyway, enough of my weather report what did I read?


Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017
I was super lucky to receive The Thief Who Wasn't There from the publisher. This is the fourth in Michael McClung's Amra Thetys series. I read the first three in quick succession and was practically biting my nails for number 4 to be released. I wasn't left disappointed.

At the end of Book 3 - The Thief Who Knocked on Sorrow's Gate Amra has disappeared from the mad wizard's tower in her home town of Bellarius. She isn't gone and forgotten as her boyfriend and mage Holgren is left behind, desperate to find her. In this instalment the story is told mainly from Holgren's POV. He is determined to find Amra and we find out just how far he is willing to go and the extent of his power. Holgren doesn't have to battle just to find Amra, he has unwittingly positioned himself as one of the contenders to rule Bellarius. There are battles on every front between the other factions within Bellarius and the dark magic that has taken Amra. He is willing to do anything and everything to get her back....even to go to Hell in back. Will he succeed? I will let you find that our yourself.

I enjoyed The Thief Who Wasn't There and think that having the story told by Holgren 'mixed it up a bit'. I like how ruthless he is and what he is willing to do in order to get his girlfriend back. When he says that it's Amra who makes him a nice person you realise pretty quickly that he isn't wrong. I also thought it was clever how McClung explains/re-introduces the story of gods and goddess and Amra's role in fate. However, I didn't find this book quite as polished as the others. I felt the transition between the Holgren POVs and Amra's a bit abrupt. Likewise with the change of story from the tower in Bellarius back to Holgren landing back in Lucernis. I had to go back and re-read the start of each of these chapters just to make sure I hadn't missed anything like an announcement of Holgren intending to travel or the subsequent journey. Otherwise, it was a great story and I am really looking forward to finding out what happens next.


Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017
I received a lovely Qwill care package towards the end of last year and in that was Thunderbird which is the fourth book in Chuck Wendig's Miriam Black series. I was really looking forward to continuing this series as Miriam is one of those characters who dares you to like her. In this instalment Miriam is on the road to find the one person who is rumoured to be able to remove her ability to see how people die. Miriam has been trailed through all of the books by 'The Trespasser', a malevolent being she can only see who goads her and torments her about her abilities. Taking the form of those she has loved and lost (and sometimes those who she hated and lost!) The Trespasser is determined she won't give up her psychic abilities. During her travels Miriam finds herself in the company of a group of people much like herself with individual talents. They aren't, however, intending to use their powers for good but have plans which put them in the league of other terrorist organisations. Miriam is torn between wanting to defeat them and finding the woman who can remove her curse. What's worse is when she discovers that they are one and the same. Who will prevail? It's Miriam against a whole community of psychically enhanced nut-jobs. Go Miriam Go!

I would love to be able to say I really enjoyed Thunderbird but this is a hard series to enjoy, in the traditional sense of the word. Miriam is rude, crude, a user and can be at times extremely self centered. She has also had a terrible life with people being abusive and cruel to her. She has had an zealously religious mother mentally abuse her, has been chased and captured by mad men and just discovered her saviour and love Louis is engaged to someone else. Miriam seems to be permanently enrolled in the university of hard knocks. She is however, trying to be a better person, to rid herself of her visions so that she can lead a normal life. What she fails to realise and weirdly what The Trespasser is trying to convince her of, is how she can use her visions to change fate. What I didn't find as obvious this time was the relationship between the title and what happens in the story. Previous titles of Blackbirds, Mockingbird and The Cormorant started to make sense as the story progressed but I didn't really see the connection, or mention of a thunderbird in this tale. Perhaps this is a Wendig subtlety that passed me by. This is a dark, dark tale and the ending is very stark. I hope Miriam gets a break in the next book and that Wendig wraps up this story. Great book, but in my cover snob way I really miss the previous covers. I could stare at them all day and always found something new hiding in the background.


That is it for me this week. Hoping you have a great week and get to enjoy a book-shaped something special.





The Thief Who Wasn't There
Amra Thetys 4
Ragnarok Publications, November 15, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 348 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017
Bellarius, saved from utter destruction, is now plunged into vicious civil war. Amra has vanished, and while Holgren has a plan to find her and bring her back, his plan teeters between impossibility and insanity.

Before he can even implement it, Holgren will have to deal with three separate armies vying for control of Bellaria, all of which view him as either a threat, an inconvenience, or a potential tool.

Meanwhile, Holgren seeks to trap one of the monstrous rift-spawn — abominations born of the Telemarch's madness and power — and bend it to his will. Then, he intends to descend into the eleven hells to steal an ancient artifact of incredible power from the dire halls of the Black Library.

Oh, the things we do for love.

The Thief Who Wasn't There is the fourth volume in Michael McClung's Amra Thetys series.



Previously

Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017




Thunderbird
Miriam Black 4
Saga Press, February 28, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017
In the fourth installment of the Miriam Black series, Miriam heads to the southwest in search of another psychic who may be able to help her understand her curse, but instead finds a cult of domestic terrorists and the worst vision of death she’s had yet.

Miriam is becoming addicted to seeing her death visions, but she is also trying out something new: Hope. She is in search of another psychic who can help her with her curse, but instead finds a group of domestic terrorists in her deadliest vision to date.



Previously

Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017Melanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017

Review: The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig


The Cormorant
Author:  Chuck Wendig
Series:  Miriam Black 3
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books
   December 31, 2013 (US/Canada and eBook)
   January 2, 2014 (UK)
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook,
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780857663382 (print)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Review: The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig
Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from “thief”… to “killer”.

Hired by a wealthy businessman, she heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she’s good at. But in her vision she sees her client die by another’s hand – and on the wall, written in blood, is a message just for Miriam.

She’s expected…

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Plying Her Trade | Inevitable | Touch of Death | No More! ]



Melanie's Thoughts

In The Cormorant, Miriam Black's third story, Chuck Wendig ramps up the action and the tension for the reader. The story starts with Miriam in custody but I didn't know who or why they wanted her. Wendig uses Miriam's custody as the means for telling her story...and boy it is a doozy! Miriam finds herself in Florida on a job to 'see' a client's death but instead she saw a message....a message for her written in the client's blood. It's obvious someone wants her in town and Miriam isn't sure how she is going to get out of this mess. Miriam's mother now lives in Florida and Miriam decides to pay a visit while she is there. Miriam discovers a new and different side to her uber religious mother. Just as she starts to think her life couldn't get any scarier she sees her mother's death in which there is another horrific message from someone from her past. Time is ticking and she hasn't much time to stop the hand of fate.

Miriam is one of those purely unlikeable characters that you just can't help but to cheer for. She is foul mouthed, unrepentant and basically a bit of a 'hot mess'. She stumbles (usually because she has had too much to drink) from one disaster to another and in The Cormorant there are lots of disasters for her to get embroiled in. I thought it was interesting how Wendig had Miriam tell her story while she was in custody. It was a tiny bit confusing at first as there were virtually no clues as to why Miriam had been apprehended or whether or not she was being held by the police, the FBI or the mob. The story also moves from past to present or near present rather seamlessly so I really had to pay attention to make sure I wasn't missing something that would be pivotal to the plot later on. There were a few times when I thought that the plot was a bit dis-jointed but it became clear as the story progressed that Wendig used certain events to develop Miriam's character. Miriam grows as a person and as a character through the story. She continues to learn both the positive and extremely destructive consequences of changing the fate of the person she sees in her visions. She also learns that she is not alone in the world with weird and disturbing powers.

I enjoy Wendig's writing style and really enjoy the Miriam Black series. While gory, gruesome and intense the series just keeps getting better and better. Wendig keeps the reader on their toes throughout The Cormorant as this instalment is action packed from the very start to the very end and has a number of different stories that all culminate into the overall plot. In each review of this series I am always tempted to say that the Miriam Black series is not for the faint hearted but in the case of The Cormorant I really mean it. This instalment veers closer to horror than its urban fantasy roots. There is even an added bonus with this series - check out the covers by Joey Hi-Fi! Endless hours can be spent picking out all the hidden images the covers hold. How many things can you see? This is an excellent series but you really need to start at the beginning with Blackbirds. If you like unlike-able characters, a well executed plot and don't mind a bit of murder and mayhem then this series has it all.


2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!

After an incredible 1189 votes over a two week period the results are in and ... it's a tie! Two novels from Angry Robot Books tied for first place with 492 votes each.  (I'd like to have a word with Angstrom A. Robot about this!)

I think this is simply a testament to Angry Robot's dedication to having wonderful covers for their novels.  It also has much to do with the fans for both Chris F. Holm's and Chuck Wendig's marvelous writing.

Cover Wars started as a way to recognize and celebrate the talented individuals who bring books to life with their eye-catching covers. While I may not judge a book by its cover, a terrific cover will certainly make me want to know what is on the inside.

Amazing15 and Joey Hi-Fi created spectacular covers for Dead Harvest and Blackbirds respectively.  Congratulations to both for being the Winners of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - COVER OF THE YEAR!





2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!
Cover created by Amazing15





2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!
Cover created by Joey Hi-Fi




The results:

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!






The 2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars Monthly Winners

2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!




A huge thank you to all of the wonderful authors who participated in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge and to all of you who read their Guest Blogs and Interviews and their novels.



Interview with Chuck Wendig and Giveaway - May 1, 2012

I can't think of a better way to start May than with a 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interview with Chuck Wendig. Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) was published on April 24 in the US/Canada and will be published on  May 3 in the UK/RoW.  You may read Chuck's Guest Blog - Having a kid changes everything. - here.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Chuck:  I twist the head off an albino crow every day before writing.

I’d call that pretty “quirky.” Also possibly illegal? I don’t know, but screw it, one must entreat the gods.

I actually don’t have many quirks, but font is one of them. Every project seems to ask for its own font. And I really need to find that font – I mean, I don’t need to, if I’m forced to write in, say, Courier New or Wingdings, I can. But I really like to hunt the right font down and pin it to the story with an arrow.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Chuck:  Early on, I was absorbed and inspired by the works of Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale, Christopher Moore, Bradley Denton, Robin Hobb. These days I’m inspired by peers who are doing incredible work, too: Stephen Blackmoore, Saladin Ahmed, Christa Faust, Duane Swierczynski, the list goes on and on.

I should note that Blackbirds in particular follows a style set forth by the wildly underrated master-of-the-macabre, Charles Grant.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Chuck:  Pantser by heart, plotter by necessity. I hate to plot and outline and plan and scheme but if I don’t, my story wanders aimlessly about like an old person lost at the mall.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Chuck:  Patience. Writing takes patience. You need it to plan it. To write it. To publish it either through traditional or DIY channels. To build audience. To let the book find its own audience.

I have all the patience of an espresso-jacked field mouse.

The good news is, I possess patience’s surlier, gnarlier cousin: stubbornness.

TQ:  Describe Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) in 140 characters or less.

Chuck:  Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die, but can she stay the Grim Reaper's hand? Can she save Louis, or will she only doom him further?

TQ:  What inspired you to write Blackbirds?

Chuck:  Death and the powerlessness it brings. Death is one of the few common threads that binds us all together, and it makes us all its bitch. I went through a time when I was made to realize that, and from that frustration and anxiety came Miriam, a character who embodies—in a supernatural sense, even—the reality of our deaths and the seeming inability to do anything about it.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Blackbirds?

Chuck:  I went out on the road for a year, learned to chain-smoke, and I stole stuff from dead people just to see what it would feel like. I figured I’d really embrace the “write what you know” adage!

Okay, maybe not.

The research was fairly light. The locations in the book were all locations I’ve been to in some fashion or another, so the big thing was researching the nature of death—the book portrays a number of death visions as Miriam sees them.

But, dang, let me tell you: that’s a rough research ride. You see some grisly stuff when you research death on the Internet. It’s like the opposite of porn.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Chuck:  Miriam is probably the easiest, as she and I share certain psychic territory. I’m not her and she’s not me but I get her. I maybe wish I didn’t get her, but I do. When I started writing the next in the series, Mockingbird, I found her voice came back to me easy, almost too easy, scary-easy.

Louis may have been the hardest. The book is about terrible people, many of them made that way by other terrible people, and whether they can fix their own busted-ass moral compasses, but Louis is the one character in the book whose compass is pretty well intact. And that’s actually harder to write because you want to keep him real, keep him engaging and complex even in his simplicity.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Blackbirds?

Chuck:  One of the killers in the book is a brutal little fire-plug of a woman named Harriet Adams. And she’s on the trail of Miriam and her partner(s)-in-crime.

Well, throughout the book I do these “interludes,” which serve as interstitial look-backs in order to illuminate character and plot, and sometimes these are written in the voices of certain characters.

Harriet gets one of those.

And, in typical Harriet fashion, it’s like… a sentence long. And it’s a truly horrifying sentence. It’s one of my favorite moments of the book.

TQ:  What's next?

ChuckMockingbird drops out of the sky in late-August already, so that’s cool.

Dinocalypse Now is available to Kickstarter backers, but will be out for a wider audience in a couple-few weeks.

Bait Dog will soon reach backers, too.

Oh! And I edited an anthology—Don’t Read This Book—which is out now, and features horror and urban fantasy stories by Stephen Blackmoore, Harry Connolly, Mur Lafferty, LA Gilman, Will Hindmarch, Matt Forbeck, Rich Dansky, Monica Valentinelli, Josh Roby, Ryan Macklin, CE Murphy, Greg Stolze, and Robin Laws.

Man, I’ve been busy.

Plus I’ve got other tricksy little secrets up my sleeve.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Chuck:  No, no, thank you!


About Blackbirds

Blackbirds
Miriam Black 1
Angry Robot, April 24. 2012 US/CAN, May 3, 2012 UK/RoW
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Chuck Wendig and Giveaway - May 1, 2012
Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Touch Of Death | The Future Is Written | Free Way | Surviving ]


About Chuck

Interview with Chuck Wendig and Giveaway - May 1, 2012
Chuck’s novel Double Dead hit shelves in November, 2011. His second novel, Blackbirds, is already getting rave reviews prior to its publication in April of this year. Its sequel, Mockingbird, publishes at the end of 2012.

He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is an alum of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, showed at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, and their feature film HiM is in development with producers Ted Hope and Anne Carey. Together they co-wrote the digital transmedia drama Collapsus, which was nominated for an International Digital Emmy and a Games 4 Change award.

Chuck has contributed over two million words to the game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP). He is a frequent contributor to The Escapist, writing about games and pop culture.

He currently lives in Pennsylvania with wife, dog, and newborn son. You can find him at his website, terribleminds.com, where he is busy talking about storytelling and the art and craft of writing. You can find his writing advice collected in e-books such as Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey and 500 Ways to be a Better Writer. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy.

Chuck's Links

Terrible Minds (website)
Blog
Twitter
Tumbelog (Tumblr)



The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) from The Qwillery. Please note that should you win the novel will not be sent to you until after it is published in April.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What book are you reading?
or
What is the last book you've finished reading?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

**Giveaway rules are subject to change.**

Guest Blog by Chuck Wendig - Having a kid changes everything

Please welcome Chuck Wendig to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs.  Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1)* will be published in April (US/CAN) and May (UK/RoW) by Angry Robot.


Having a kid changes everything.

In italics: everything.

All caps: EVERYTHING.

It’s all changed. Changed in the most sanity-destroying, brain-damaging, time-eating, sleep-killing ways.
Many writers give themselves over to a daily routine: wake up, drink coffee, write the first thousand words, walk the dog, second cup of coffee, write the next thousand words, shot of whiskey, a moment spared for Internet pornography, the next thousand words, eat lunch, discard pants, begin editing, get sleepy, get second wind, descend into madness, and so on and so forth.

Writers must become creatures of habit. We must apply order to our day to succeed.

Babies, on the other hand?

Babies are creatures of chaos.

They are, in this way, the very opposite of writers. They cannot give themselves over to routine because every day they change a little more. Our son – nicknamed “B-Dub” – just turned nine months old and out of nowhere this tiny hairless chimpanzee is ticking off checkmarks left and right. Learning to high-five, kiss, stand, walk, babble, put objects together, play patiently with toys, and so forth. He can climb the stairs. He can ascend both tiers of the couch (cushion and the back of the couch) with ease. Having him run around the living room is like setting a coked-up goblin free in your house.

You really have to pay attention to coked-up goblins. And you really have to pay attention to babies, too.

So, where once I had routine, I now have chaos. Where once my day was splayed out before me like a Chinese buffet, I now have to chase down hours with hatchet and spear.

Ah, but all that’s just external. Just what happens on the outside. Something happens inside, too—suddenly, the writer must look at the stories he tells. I take a look at BLACKBIRDS and I think, “My son can’t read this. My son shouldn’t read this until he’s at least a teenager. Hell, I’m not even sure I should read this. Sex. Drugs. Violence. Bad language. Prolific snark.” DOUBLE DEAD features zombies and cannibals and asshole vampires and, worst of all, a nation of Juggalos. SHOTGUN GRAVY has a teen girl who goes up against bullies with shotguns. Not the greatest message for a young mind. “Sure, boy, got a problem with bullies at school? Here’s a .410 shotgun. Give ‘em a scare!”

So now I’m thinking, I’ve got to learn to tell stories to this itty-bitty human. Half the kids’ books we already have don’t help. Daddy can’t read those without criticizing. “This book about this weird button-eyed teddy bear has no character development, no thematic arc, no narrative conflict. I DECLARE IT TO BE A TURD. We will throw this away!” And then I fling it to the far corners of the room.

What will I do? I’ll adjust. Like man has been doing ever since he turned flippers into feet and waddled out of the ocean brine. I’ll keep carving away hours to write. I’ll keep figuring out how, as B-Dub gets older, to tell stories he’ll like as well as keep writing stories that adult human beings will like. And I’ll do it happily and eagerly and without concern because now I’ve got one more reason to keep on doing my penmonkey shuffle: I’ve got a child with a mouth to feed and a mind to fill with stories.

Having a kid changes everything.

In the best – if also the craziest – possible way.


About Blackbirds

Blackbirds
Miriam Black 1
Angry Robot, April 24. 2012 US/CAN, May 3, 2012 UK/RoW
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Chuck Wendig - Having a kid changes everything
Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Touch Of Death | The Future Is Written | Free Way | Surviving ]
Preorder


About Chuck

Guest Blog by Chuck Wendig - Having a kid changes everything
Chuck’s novel Double Dead hit shelves in November, 2011. His second novel, Blackbirds, is already getting rave reviews prior to its publication in April of this year. Its sequel, Mockingbird, publishes at the end of 2012.

He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is an alum of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, showed at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, and their feature film HiM is in development with producers Ted Hope and Anne Carey. Together they co-wrote the digital transmedia drama Collapsus, which was nominated for an International Digital Emmy and a Games 4 Change award.

Chuck has contributed over two million words to the game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP). He is a frequent contributor to The Escapist, writing about games and pop culture.

He currently lives in Pennsylvania with wife, dog, and newborn son. You can find him at his website, terribleminds.com, where he is busy talking about storytelling and the art and craft of writing. You can find his writing advice collected in e-books such as Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey and 500 Ways to be a Better Writer. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy.

Chuck's Links

Terrible Minds (website)
Blog
Twitter
Tumbelog (Tumblr)



The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) from The Qwillery. Please note that should you win the novel will not be sent to you until after it is published in April.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Share one thing that it on your bucket list 
(that list of things you'd like to do before you die)? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

**Giveaway rules are subject to change.**





*To those of you who might say, "but, but THIS is not Mr. Wendig's first novel!!" The Qwillery considers Blackbirds a debut novel because it is not part of a series (Tomes of the Dead) with novels by several writers as is Double Dead.  The Qwillery may be wrong to think so, but that's the way it is. It is not a reflection of the quality of Double Dead or any novel in the Tomes of the Dead.

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - Cover - Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

The cover for Blackbirds (Miriam Black 1) by Chuck Wendig was recently revealed.  The cover was created by Joey HiFi.


Blackbirds
Author:  Chuck Wendig
Series:  Miriam Black 1
Publisher:  Angry Robot Books (May 2012)

2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - Cover - Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig


Chuck's Links

Website
Blog
Twitter


Keep up to date with the 2012 Debut Author Challenge at the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Page.
Melanie's Week in Review - January 14, 2018Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck WendigMelanie's Week in Review - January 15, 2017Review: The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig2012 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - 2012 COVER(s) OF THE YEAR!Interview with Chuck Wendig and Giveaway - May 1, 2012Guest Blog by Chuck Wendig - Having a kid changes everything2012 Debut Author Challenge Update - Cover - Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

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