Posts by CyanideMeghan

Review: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Paranormal / Supernatural, Reading | 0 comments

Review: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Hey! Before I get into this review, I thought I should warn you: this is going to be a profanity-laced review of a profanity-laced book, so if swearing isn’t your thing, you might wanna skip this one. You were warned. Without further ado…   If this cover doesn’t immediately compel you to buy this book, you’re probably dead. One: it’s fucking gorgeous, down to every last detail. Two: it’s basically the only blurb you need. Three: I’ve never seen a better depiction of a main character, ever. She’s sassy, aloof, and completely unapologetic. And you want to know who she is. It’s been a while since I was immediately sucked into a book, but Miriam Black is one hard-hitting, badass bitch. Her slick one-liners and devil-may-care attitude caught me up and I willingly went along for the ride. You see, Miriam is “gifted” with the ability to see your death. One little touch, skin on skin, and she knows every last detail, down the moment you drown in your own blood or scrape your face off on the pavement. And if your death happens to be convenient, she’ll watch you choke, and then steal your wallet. Not a bad living, if you call it living. Miriam would call it surviving. She should be entirely unlikable, but fuck it all if there’s not a sliver of redeeming empathy in her. When she meets a man whose death is caused by him meeting her, Miriam struggles against her urge to save him. Saving people only leads to a shitstorm of death in her experience. But she just can’t let this one go. Chuck Wendig does an impressive job channeling the voice of a twenty-something vagrant road chick. The narrative is seamless, and the present-tense perspective grabs you by the back of the neck and shoves you down the back alley of Miriam’s world. In “Interlude” chapters, you learn more about Miriam’s past and what makes her tick. Though it breaks up the narrative, these slices of “before” fit flawlessly into the story. The whole damn book is sharp as a switchblade. I’ve never been more in love. I may have immediately purchased Mockingbird and The Cormorant. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on this one, from readers as enthralled as I am to readers who thought the book was gratuitously vulgar. I won’t lie: there’s a fuckton of swearing (which I don’t give a shit about) and some nitty-gritty nasty details, like a roach disappearing up a dead guy’s nose and people gettin’ stabbed in the eye. Oh, and the death. Did I mention there’s death in this book? The best thing about Blackbirds is how unapologetic it is. Wendig gives zero fucks (and thus Miriam does as well) about what you think of her (Miriam), and tells a damn good story. It doesn’t pretend to be a romance, or a salvation novel, or a better understanding the mysteries of the universe book. It’s just Miriam, dealing with the shit in her life and trying to do something right, even though she’s convinced she’ll fail. And I fucking love that. I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book. If you enjoy fast-paced, gritty urban fantasy with a dash of the supernatural that steal hours from your life because you can’t stop reading, get Blackbirds immediately. Here, I’ll make it easy for you: Amazon: Blackbirds by Chuck WendigBarnes and Noble: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig And if Chuck weren’t badass enough, he also dishes out profanity-laced writing advice over on TerribleMinds.com. I, for one, am looking forward to...

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How to Craft Description by Meghan Schuler

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in How To, Writing | 0 comments

How to Craft Description by Meghan Schuler

I am obsessed with description in writing. The little things have the ability to make or break a scene, or allow you to connect with a character. Take for example Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Erin employs ALL FIVE senses, from the taste of caramel popcorn to the smell of candy floss, feeling of birds rushing by and the sound of gravel underfoot. You can see everything she describes, drawing you in to her circus and placing you amongst her characters. The most sensory experience I’ve had was my time at Sleep No More in New York City. It is an immersive theatre experience wherein you’re allowed to explore five floors filled with over 100 rooms, touch whatever you want, follow the actors or wander on your own. The only rules are you must wear your mask at all times and you cannot speak. Depending on where you end up, there are “unlockable” scenes, such as the barber clipping your hair to add to his collection or being force-fed “poisoned” candy. I left Sleep No More transformed, and that’s what I aim to bring to readers. Whether you’re writing in first-person or third-person, you need to give the read a sensory experience. Like anything else, you can pull from reality. Writing about demons? You know what sulfur smells like from high school chemistry. Epic fantasy? I’m fairly sure you’ve stood in the middle of a high wind before. Horror? You’ve sliced your finger open at least once. Description is not just about the senses; it’s also about emotion. Here’s a chunk of my short story, Cherry Pie. I’d never written a Romantic Comedy before, so this was weird: The restaurant was warm and rich with the scent of spices and sweets. Icicle lights hung from every window and jazzy swing versions of carols played softly beneath the whisper of voices. Connor pulled my chair out for me and I pressed the backs of my knees against it, a flutter of worry coming over me as I practiced for what I was going to do in a few short hours. I hadn’t realized Connor had been talking to me and I snapped my attention to him, a stupid grin on my face. “You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?” he asked. “No, sorry. I’m just a little nervous.” He wrinkled his brow, hiding a smile. “Why?” “I’ve never done this couple thing before and Livy talked up the fact that it’s our anniversary, and there’s all this Christmas stuff going on and—“ “Emmy, you have nothing to worry about,” he said, reaching across the table to take my hand. I let out my breath in a huff, trying to relax. “I’m not used to this.” “We’ll learn together. Now, do you want to hear my news?” I nodded. “I’m graduating early. I’m officially a professor,” he said, beaming. My smile mirrored his. “Really? Connor, that’s wonderful!” “No more thesis papers, no more courses, and lots more time with you,” he said. The nervous flutter returned, joined by a warmth that took the edge off a bit. “I know we said we wouldn’t exchange gifts this year, but I did get you something,” he said, a blush creeping up his neck. He reached into his coat and pulled out a thin box, wrapped in red paper. He pushed it across to me and nodded. I tore open the paper, the velvet box inside as black as my dress. A silver bracelet rested on the white cushion, “My heart is and always will be yours” engraved in script. “Sense and...

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On Depression and Writing

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Writing | 5 comments

I really wanted my first official post to be quirky and upbeat, but that’s not the world I’ve been living in lately. I’m guilty of vague-Tweeting and skirting around the subject on my own blog. I’ve publically broadcast that I’m having a rough time. With recent posts by Libba Bray and Megan Whitmer circulating around regarding depression, I thought it was time I contributed as well. For the last three months, things have really sucked. Sucked isn’t the best work for it, but I have yet to find one that speaks accurately. I spent most of my days driving my grandparents between hospitals and working on books in waiting rooms. It was a constant back and forth from standard check to readmission. About three weeks ago, my grandfather died. I knew that morning when I got up that it would happen. We got the call that afternoon. I mourned. The memorial was postponed because my dad had to fly out on business (it was his father). For three weeks, I was stuck in a sort of suspended animation. I began to readjust, only to have it all torn down again at the memorial service. I tried to distract myself by writing and found I was unable to get more than a handful of words down, most of which I then deleted. Now, I don’t have seasonal depression. I have been to therapy. I try to keep a shine on social media and end my blogs with a quip about refusing to give up, even when I want to. It comes and goes, and on occasion, the writer’s emotional cycle contributes. We all feel that we’re worthless at some point in our writing career. We wonder why we’re not better, comparing our rough drafts to everyone else’s finished piece. We wallow. We think about quitting. Eventually we claw our way back out. It’s twice as hard to be okay when Real Life is there, kicking you in the teeth. I managed to finish the first draft of my second book, but I have written nothing in weeks. I try to treat myself; I buy me a chai latte and sit myself down at Starbucks for a writing date. Sometimes it works, and for an hour, maybe two, I’m a functioning human again. I’m at the stage where I can talk about it. I can tell my friends I’m not okay, and we talk and we figure out my next move together. However, I can’t help but feel I’ve let myself down by not enjoying the thing I love most. I keep telling myself that this is okay. I need to honor how I feel. I need to accept and experience these emotions. I need to acknowledge that yes, I am depressed, but I will eventually beat it. Again. I’m not a published writer. I don’t have deadlines, I don’t have contracts or written obligations. There’s no time-table expect the one ticking in my time-bomb brain. I’m rewriting my first manuscript, and it’s like another death, but one I’m committing on my own. I’m depressed and I’m in the pit of writer’s low. And I will make it out again. I will dance around to Panic! at the Disco (because I accidentally discovered that I like them), I will make a costume and attend a steampunk gala next week, I will make notes when I can’t write, I will talk to my friends, and they will understand if I’m reluctant or all-out refusing to leaving my room. Depression is different for everyone, but the inability to function is something we share,...

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