C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

The publishing revolution already happened.

And now for something somewhat different: allthatchazz.com

www.allthatchazz.com

Over a year and a half and 600 plus blog posts, Chazz Writes has been (and will continue to be) free content for writers about the craft and business of writing. Chazz Writes is about grammar, editing, writing advice and the latest self-publishing news. I’ve made a lot of friends and allies and promoted quite a few authors here. It’s a lot of fun. The fun will continue for readers on the companion site. Stop by, subscribe and see what’s cooking.

Someone is already offended because it looks like I’m saying writers aren’t readers. Some people arrive pre-offended, so…can you hear my shrug from there? As a writer, I’m also a power reader: vast library, ten books at a time, two e-readers…the whole smear. But not all readers are writers.  

What will be different? All that Chazz focuses on what readers want: reviews, sneak peeks and more ideas on what to read. On the new site, I write about reading.

Contributors: All That Chazz is open to submissions (just like Chazz Writes). If you’d like to write a guest post about who, what, when, why, where and how you’re reading, please submit your 300-word (max) post and a 25-word bio to me at expartepress@gmail.com.

The Book Review Circle: I haven’t forgotten about Kim Nayyer’s excellent suggestion to establish a book circle. (See the bottom segment for my personal update on what I’ve been doing instead.)

The Review Circle Recap: In the summer, I put out the call for self-published authors who were willing to review a book in exchange for a review of their own book. The reviews, to be published at All that Chazz and promoted on Chazz Writes, can be used by the author and the reviewer for their own blogs and whatever marketing purposes suit them. In the next couple of weeks (as the hither and dither allows) I’ll be contacting all the authors who contacted me to set up the circle.

If you want to participate in the review circle, email me with details of your book, genre and word count at expartepress@gmail.com.

(Don’t wait!)

This looks like a job for me: Wow, have I been busy! My business plan is coming together, though I wish I had a couple of interns and a cappuccino machine to hurry the publishing process along. So much of what I’m working on is new to me (formatting and podcasting, for instance). Some of the learning curve is so steep, I need two Sherpa guides. However, it’s coming together on schedule as long as I continue to try do everything at once. Self-publishing is not, as some claim, the “easy” road to publication. It’s just another path and the terrain is a little different.

I’m enjoying the view from this little goat path. I think I’ll climb higher and see what I can see.

Join me.

Filed under: All That Chazz, book reviews, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, readers, reviews, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , ,

A question for you: Which ebook cover is better?

Kit Foster, a fabulous graphic artist, is kicking around some ideas for the cover of my ebooks (releasing very, scarily soon.)

Which cover do you think is better, orange or green? You can leave a comment or email me at expartepress@gmail.com. Thanks! I appreciate your input.

Self-Help for Stoners Self Help for Stoners

Filed under: Books, ebooks, What about Chazz?,

How to Survive Your First Launch | Men with Pens

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

Your first launch is a big deal. Follow these tips to make sure it’s smooth and easy-breezy from beginning to success. Cheers!
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Filed under: publishing

Curiosity Quills Interviews Polly Courtney | Curiosity Quills

Polly Courtney was the author who dumped her publisher at the book launch. Now that she’s telling her side of the story, the plot sickens. Check it out. ~ Chazz

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

So, you’ve finished the backbreaking work of writing, polishing, and packaging your novel for release.
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Filed under: publishing, , , , , , ,

Writing: The Rule of Three & the peril of semi-colons

Massey Hall, Toronto

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Saturday night I saw Bill Maher at Massey Hall in Toronto. Good show, fun time. Bill is known for Real time with Bill Maher, his documentary Religulous, his comedy and his New Rules books. Watching him perform, I noticed he never breaks the Rule of Three. It is a good rule, an effective rule and a memorable rule that I just demonstrated with this very sentence.

Wikipedia puts it like this: The “Rule of Three” is a principle in writing that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.”

Of course, you will write longer lists, but when you use a colon, do so sparingly unless you’re composing a scientific paper. Semi-colons can be very useful in separating elements in a list after a colon. However, if you use the semi-colon to separate related clauses, please do so sparingly. Wikipedia says, “According to the British writer on grammar, Lynne Truss, many non writers avoid the colon and semicolon…”

I disagree. It’s not just non-writers who avoid the semi-colon to separate interdependent clauses. 

The semi-colon can be a useful device occasionally, but as a punctuation mark, it is often either misused or has fallen out of favor.

When Lynne Truss refers to “non-writers”, does she not also mean people who are readers? Shouldn’t it be the common reader who sets the standard for what’s easily read and understood? I invoke the common usage rule here. When something has fallen out of common use, it’s too rusty to use without a lot of irritating squeaking. For instance, if a writer uses the word “behooves,” he sounds like he’s trying to be Charles Dickens. You just aren’t old enough for that.

Similarly, the semi-colon has fallen so far out of common use that when a reader encounters one, it pulls them out of the narrative to think, “Hey, look! A semi-colon! Why did the author feel it was necessary to separate related thoughts with a semi-colon, instead of separating those ideas with a simple period? Anything that stops me from breezing along through a novel is a speed bump that I would prefer shaved down so I can speed along and focus on content instead of transmission static.

I have never read a sentence with a semi-colon that I did not reread at least twice.

I’m not saying  you shouldn’t use semi-colons, if they suit you; I am saying, I won’t use the semi-colon.

Anymore.

Filed under: Editing, Editors, grammar, , , , , , , , , , ,

Editing tools and typo tips

Book cover (Dust jacket) for the 15th edition ...

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Write_your_book
EDIT YOUR BOOK!

When you’re checking your manuscript, use your word processor’s Spellcheck. Some editors turn up their snobby little noses at Spellcheck, but it can flag problems you might otherwise miss. Nobody’s perfect and problems will always appear once you’ve published your book (yes, in both traditional and self-published books). Don’t take every suggestion; Spellcheck isn’t always right. It’s a tool, not a panacea. You can also use Find and Replace to look for problems Spellcheck misses: its, it’s, there, their and so on. Spellcheck doesn’t replace editors and they don’t replace thinking. But you’ll catch more using it.

To the rude editor I met at the conference who said she never used Spellcheck: Yes, I’m saying that was arrogant and, just like the rest of us, you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are. Or funny. And you need to work on your social skills. (Now I’m worried that I’m projecting.)

I don’t edit blog posts obsessively, but when I’m working on a book, I have several websites up on my browser: Chicago Manual of Style, Wikipedia, and dictionary.com. I also use Autocrit for more input.

For me, yesterday was single quote day. I wrote parts of my books with Open Office, so I had to go through the manuscript and make all my single quotes curly…and curly in the right direction. I was cross-eyed and HULK ANGRY by 5 pm.

PentecostSelf-publishing guru and author of Pentecost, Joanna Penn, has a great suggestion to deal with typos: Publish your ebook first. Your readers will let you know (politely or not) about your book’s typos. Corrections to the ebook are easier than correcting your printed book. Corrections to print books are called “second editions.” Great tip! For more information from Joanna, check out this very useful interview. I loved this inspiring interview and it helped me calm down after Curly Quote Day. Well…much later, after the photo below.

Me after Curly Quote Day

Filed under: Books, DIY, Editing, Editors, getting it done, grammar, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Promotion: To spam, or not to spam

no spam!

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Yesterday I posted a too-long comment in reply to a post at The Taleist. (I recommend The Taleist heartily. Love his blog and bought his Kindle formatting kit, too.) However, I felt some despair at a guest post that seemed to imply it was awfully easy to offend people. The guest blogger, Norman W Wilson, is a Professor Emeritus, so what do I know? Still, my heart cried out, “What would you have us do?” Zip over here for the original post and below is my reply from the comment thread, reposted for your consideration. (Yes, I might very well be in the minority on this one.)

Often these strategies are not effective with many people. But they are effective with some people. I often get phone calls and email solicitations etc.,… and I, too, wonder, who would be interested in that, or who would fall for that? But spam must work in some small percentage of cases or the strategy would have been abandoned long ago.

My concern is that all that hectoring gives rise to cynicism. So an author asked you to buy his or her book in a place that offends you. I get that it offends you, but “inexcusable”? That’s an overcorrection. We excuse many offences that are far less egregious. Similarly, anyone with a new book is excited about bringing their baby out into the world. It’s the most natural thing in the world to make your cover into your avatar. What’s the real harm in that (except for a sensitive minority)? I skim right past that if I’m not interested. Are you offended for yourself or is this a perception that we just can’t take any more advertising? Some people really do like the taste of spam.

I’m not advocating tantrums and sedition in your forums. I’m saying let’s keep perspective and have some compassion for our fellow artists. When I get spam, I don’t get offended. I just ignore it as most people do. My book isn’t pollution in your space. It’s an option and an invitation you are welcome to ignore. (Who knows? You might love it.) I agree that aggression isn’t the answer for book promotion, but neither is obsequious timidity. No one ever succeeded hiding their artistic  lights under bushels of shame.

I especially worry that new authors who could have been helped are getting scolded instead. One example cited: Typical lines go something like this: “I just finished signing a contract for my new novel No Name with XYZ Publishing and would like to know how to set up a book signing.” That could easily be a genuine request for input from an excited, nervous newbie who looked to her more experienced peers for assistance.

I have no doubt your heart is pure, sir. However, too wide a net and too dim a view can catch  up innocent authors and batch them with the rabid spammers. It is not spam that has turned me off several Linked In groups (where I lurked but never posted, by the way.) I clicked “leave group” because of what I perceived as chronic incivility from veterans in the field who posted with their own sense of entitlement. Not all posters were impolite, of course, but enough were so cranky and cynical that I turned to bloggers because they have a vested interest in being sweeter to the less informed. I believe that’s how the less informed become better informed.

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, Publicity & Promotion, Rant, , , ,

Post #600: Half a league, half a league, half a league onward

© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice

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I can’t believe it! Six-hundred posts! Of course, I’ve had other blogs and written for decades, so I know 600 is just a number. Still, Chazz Writes is finally taking off in the way I hoped it would. More comments, more love and more links (you have followed my topic, Writing and Reading Fiction on ScoopIt! too, right?)

I have promoted a dozen authors and their books. I’ve reviewed books and hope to (this fall) get a reviewing circle going so I and other authors can review more self-published books. Recently I went through old posts and found that, over the last year and a half, I’ve delved into a lot of tricky bits about writing and editing. Most important, I’ve made friends who have helped me. I’ve learned so much from Reena Jacobs and Jeff Bennington and Lorina Stephens and Roz Morris and Rebecca Senese and a dozen others. As I read the big guns, like Konrath and Eisler and Wendig, I learn more and then, through writing this blog, discover what I think about ebooks, publication and the widening digital world. In writing for you, I come back to myself.

Pretty much everything, with few exceptions, has been very well received. (The complainers have been located, tagged and marked for death by tiny ninja chips implanted in their rectums [recti?] which are programmed to explode as they read this word: churlishness. KA-BLAM!*) Also, there’s been some interesting civil debate and difference of opinion which added spice and substance (See two posts ago, for instance).

Ah, but what about the future? There will be more of the same advice-based blogging mixed with a little spirited ranting. The site that’s linked to this blog will be deleted and a new and improved one will take its place. My books will be available soon from Ex Parte Press (Motto: All of the fun, far less bullshit).

And, as I write full-time, I’ll continue to commiserate and share with you, my fellow artists and travellers on the journey to literature, independence, free expression and reading bliss.

Publishing is a tough business.

Let’s be tougher than publishing.

Let’s be gentle with each other.

*Please note: If you complained churlishly about free content and did not die, the microchip malfunctioned. Damn low-rate ninjas! But that was a wicked fart, huh?

Filed under: blogs & blogging, , ,

Emma Stone movies & embracing cliches

We’re often told to avoid clichés like the plague.

That’s good advice, except when it’s not. 

I was thinking about clichés after seeing two Emma Stone movies in quick succession: Crazy Stupid Love and Easy A. I have to say, I enjoyed both films and they did one thing the same way: Namely, they called attention to rom-com and John Hughesian clichés and made fun of them. The screenwriter  pointed at them (some call this writing technique “hanging a lantern on it”) to let us know, proudly, we know this is cliché and we aren’t apologizing. It’s not dumb if you know what you’re doing.

In Crazy Stupid Love, Steve Carell gets into an argument that destroys him. As soon as it’s over, he’s left alone to sulk and it begins to rain in buckets. “How cliché,” he says. Wink!

Easy A is a witty story with smart people saying funny things (so it’s the opposite of reality TV.) Stanley Tucci and Emma Stone are father and daughter and, in wordplay, are the same smart, funny person. The jokes are often about clichés that the protagonist recognizes are worn out repetitions, but she longs for them anyway. She wants her life to be like an ’80s high school movie. (Is Emma Stone old enough to get the reference to John Cusack with a boom box outside the dream girl’s window in Say Anything?)

Easy A is fun because of the clichés. I haven’t enjoyed a high school movie this much since Ten Things I Hate About You, so all those hanging lanterns didn’t hurt the movie a bit.

It’s okay to use clichés as long as you do so consciously and cleverly. In a rom-com, the couple are going to get together in the end. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. A few self-deprecating nods to the demands of the form (mixed in with original surprises and charming characters we care about) can make a rom-com much less cloying than it might otherwise be.

When forced to succumb to cliché, you can use the opportunity for wry dialogue and a wink at your audience through the fourth wall. Do so clumsily and your second draft will have a bunch of strokes through the too familiar and the repetitious.

Filed under: movies, writing tips, , , , , , , , , ,

The price and value of ebooks Part II

A Picture of a eBook

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There’s a lot of talk about ebook pricing. You’ve seen the numbers. Today I’m pointing you to the comments section on a post on this very blog because a great dialogue arose that I haven’t seen elsewhere and I don’t want it lost. A writer and a reader have a very thoughtful point-counterpoint discussion, not just about the numbers, but how they feel about the numbers.

Thanks to both Tracy Poff and Reena Jacobs for both their passion and civility as they had an impressive meeting of the minds about ebook pricing from an author’s and reader’s perspective.

You’ll find the comments under this post: Do readers expect too much of ebooks?

Filed under: author Q&A, authors, ebooks, Guest blog post, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , ,

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Write to live

Publish, conquer your fears, inspire others

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For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

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