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Posted by Dennis

Free Writer's Workshop Essay - 'Developing a Theme'

 Photograph by Todd Williamson for NY MagazineAs part of a new push to create more awareness of all the wonderful things we have going on in our Writer's Workshop, each month we are going to 'unlock' one of Chuck's exclusive craft essays. 

As you may or may not know, back in 2004, Chuck Palahniuk and I decided to unveil a new feature on this website whereby up and coming writers could hone their craft with review and thorough feedback by their peers.  But Chuck decided to up the ante by offering to pen an original craft essay on writing... every month.  At the close of each essay, Chuck would issue a "homework assignment" to the reader that would involve applying the lesson he just taught into their next piece of writing. 

This process continued for a total of three years, resulting in 36 original craft essays on writing that you won't find anywhere else online.  Mind you: these are lessons you'd normally have to pay $20,000+ in an MFA writing program to attain, being offered to you by a best-selling writer on this very site.  The essays soon graduated into Chuck actually reading and reviewing 6 original submissions by up and coming writers every month, with plans to choose the best selection at the end of the year for inclusion into a Writing Anthology... that he will be editing himself

Through it all, the core essense of this movement was the Workshop itself and the work that was being submitted there.  Today, we have writers who are being published for work they honed and crafted in our very workshop.  You can usually tell what the good stories are and who the authors are who are going to go far, by the level to which they learn and apply Chuck's writing tenants... tenants which were taught to him by Tom Spanbauer in his Dangerous Writing program and in turn, were handed down by their mentor, Gordon Lisch.

So to convince you all of just how much of a vital resource these essays are to writers hoping to finish that novel, submit that short story, or even brush up that poem, we are chosing a different essay every month, and making it free to the public.  This is a feature that you would normally need a Premium Membership to access. 

This month we are unlocking Chuck's second essay,

Read 'Developing a Theme'

This essay will remain open to the public for approximately 30 days.  If you don't want to wait, and prefer to read all 36 essays, as well as 14 thorough Q&As with fans and of course, access to our groundbreaking Workshop where you can submit your own writing samples, stories, novel chapters, poems and even screenplays, for peer review... then go ahead and:

Join Our Writer's Workshop


Posted by vigorous puppy

Chuck's Feedback on the November Workshop Anthology Finalists!

Chuck's Feedback of the November Workshop Anthology Submissions

We've got a strong month for stories and an incredible month for Chuck's in-depth feedback we'd like to share with you. Read on.

The finalists include:

Dietary by Brandon Tietz

A Vodka Kind of Girl by Matt Egan

Western Eyes by Brien Piech

Mating Calls by Tony Liebhard

F for Fake by Tyler Jones

Relics by Joe Johnson

Congratulations to our finalists!   

If you'd like to participate in our ground-breaking workshop, read exclusive How-To craft essays from Chuck and just network and meet other writers,

Join Our Writer's Workshop

Posted by Dennis

Join Our Official Book Club! - October Discussion "Super Sad True Love Story"

'Super Sad True Love Story' by Gary Shteyngart, our October Book Club DiscussionYou know the drill, folks.  Every month a new book is selected and a new moderator steps up to lead the discussion.  This month, our reading is already underway on Gary Shteyngar's bestseller Super Sad True Love Story.

Here's the write-up from Amazon:

Welcome to the day after tomorrow. In Gary Shteyngart's near-future New York, the dollar has been pegged to the yuan, the American Restoration Authority is on high security alert, and Lenny Abramov, the middle-aged possessor of a decent credit score but an absurdly low--and embarrassingly public--Male Hotness rating, is in love with the young Eunice Park. Like many of the clients of his employer, the Post-Human Services division of the Staatling-Wapachung Corporation, he'd also like to live forever, but all he really wants is to love Eunice. And for a time, despite the traditional challenges of their gaps in age and ethnicity and the more modern hurdle of an oppressively networked culture that makes your most private identity as transparent as the Onionskin jeans that are all the rage, he does. Super Sad True Love Story is as corrosively hilarious as you'd expect from the satirist of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook, but what may surprise you are the moments when the satire hits bedrock and the story becomes--no air quotes required--sad, true, and very much a love story. --Tom Nissley

Check Out Our Book Club

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture Posted by Joshua Chaplinsky

James Ellroy

Breaking The Curse: Paying Penance with James Ellroy
Joshua Chaplinsky
James Ellroy

Hot on the blood-slicked heels of last year's Blood's A Rover, James Ellroy returns with The Hilliker Curse, a memoir of his quest for atonement through women. Curse is a soul laid bare, an open chest wound at risk of infection, where anyone can stick their grubby little mitts in and poke around. Lesser authors might balk at displaying such honesty, but Ellroy remains committed to the cause. He is doing important work, telling important stories. This one just so happens to be his own.

Posted by vigorous puppy

Clevenger Returns for 200 Proof Storytelling!

Craig Clevenger

Introducing The Cult return of Craig Clevenger for an exclusive four-week intensive writing experience:

200 Proof Storytelling!!*
October 7th - November 4th


A Cult Special that combines the vital elements of Craig Clevenger's renowned Hotseat and Shotgun courses into a single, packed, powerful, four-week intensive class - exclusive to

(Seats for this will be limited so...

Keep reading, but make sure to Enroll Today.)

Urgent Update: Sold Out


*Distilled for purity.  Bottled on-site. 

Within this course you'll get:

Posted by Dennis

'Invisible Monsters' Tshirts Are Back... With 'Tell-All' Posters!

'Invisible Monsters' Tshirts

Order A Shirt!

UPDATE: We are running low on Fight Club Tshirts in the Creme color.  We are not sure when we will print another run of this shirt, so consider this your head's up!  If you want one of our Fight Club shirts, now would be a good time to order one.

We just received a new shipment of our popular Invisible Monsters Tshirts.  We had previously sold out of a lot of our popular sizes of this shirt about three months back, but now all sizes are back!  But wait, there's more!  The first 100 people to order any store items will receive the rare Tell-All poster with their order... free!

'Tell-All' poster

These posters sold out soon after Chuck concluded his tour, but the good people at Random House stumbled upon a left-over batch in their offices and were nice enough to donate them our way.

'Invisible Monsters' Tshirts

The Invisible Monsters shirts are available in Asphalt and Navy and are made by American Apparel. See a size chart here.  Check out a high-rez close-up of the Kevin Tong design in Navy and Asphalt.

'Invisible Monsters' Tshirts 'Invisible Monsters' Tshirts 'Invisible Monsters' Tshirts 'Invisible Monsters' Tshirts

Order A Shirt!

One last thing!  I want to remind you to not be shy!  If you have one of our Invisible Monsters shirts and think you look awesome in it, snap a pic and send it our way.  Not only will we post it on our Flickr, but it will also go up in our Tshirt gallery.

Andrew Eststrate & his girlfriend model our 'Invisible Monsters' Tshirt

For all you bold ones out there, email your pics here.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture Posted by Joshua Chaplinsky

The Passage

"The Passage" by Justin Cronin
Joshua Chaplinsky
It's the end of the world as we know it, in this mammoth post-apocalyptic vampire thriller.

It's already been referenced ad nauseum, so I will refrain from making any lazy Twilight comparisons in this review. Those sparkly bastards are too ingrained in the current zeitgeist as it is. Equally as unhelpful is flaccid hyperbole, ready-made blurbs along the lines of, "this ain't your momma's vampire novel." Because The Passage barely qualifies as a vampire novel to begin with. This works in its favor, more often than not, helping set it apart from the rest of the haematophilic pack. Cronin hasn't so much reinvented the genre as liberally borrowed from it, picking and choosing the perfect combination of fresh and familiar. The result? The successful synthesis of bound and jacketed mass appeal.

Posted by Dennis

Join Our Official Book Club! - September Discussion "Transubstantiate"

'Transubstantiate' by Richard Thomas, our September Book Club DiscussionYou know the drill, folks.  Every month a new book is selected and a new moderator steps up to lead the discussion.  This month, our reading is already underway on Richard Thomas' neo-noir Transubstantiate

After 3 years as a workshop regular and Master Class student, Richard Thomas placed his novel with a small press.  He's something of a success story from our site.  Hell, we even interviewed him about it.  (read it here)

If you've read Transubstantiate (or plan to) and would like to join in on the open discussion, simply:

Check Out Our Book Club

Here's a snippet from Oxyfication review:

Casual brutality, sex, and disorder: the heroes of noir have never been terribly endearing to the heart, but the seven nihilistic souls of Richard Thomas’ Transubstantiate seem like they were born ruined, and are likely to die that way. The story draws heavily on all the beloved accouterments of the neo-noir tradition—fractured narratives; cynicism; disorientation; ruthless beatings—but the story branches out into other areas, exploring themes of mysticism and the unknowable, even broaching the peripheral terrors of Lovecraftian horror.

Upcoming Book Club Selections!

If you'd like to get in on the action over at Book Club, you can see what we have planned down the line:

October 2010 - Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
November 2010 - Candy by Luke Davies
December 2010 - Blank Gaze (or The Implacable Order of Things) by Jose Luis Peixoto
January 2011 - Invisible by Paul Auster
February 2011 - Out of Touch by Brandon Tietz
March 2011 - Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
April 2011 - Victoria by Knut Hamsun
May 2011 - Stranger Will by Caleb Ross
June 2011 - We Are Oblivion by Michael Sonbert

All discussions are open to anyone.  You just need to be registered to the site so you can login to our forums, where the threads for each book discussin are kept.

If you have any questions about Book Club, you may post them in the forums and our moderator Pete Goutis will be quick to help you out.

Check Out Our Book Club