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

The publishing revolution already happened.

Caleb Medley: Aurora shooting victim needs our help

Caleb Medley

You are just 23 years old, about to become a dad. Your wife, lovely and only 21, is about to give birth to your son any day now. You plan to call your son Hugo. You have dreams that you will be a stand up comic one day. You’ve done some open mics. You’re working toward your dreams. You can hardly wait for your baby to arrive. Life is good. Tonight, for one last night, you’ll go to a midnight movie première without a care, without having to think about arranging for a babysitter or calling home to check on the baby. It’s going to be like any other night, but it’s your last outing with your pregnant wife, so it’s a milestone in the arc of your life.

It’s not going to be the milestone anyone could have predicted.

You’re in the theatre, having some popcorn. The movie’s fun. Then, twenty minutes into The Dark Knight Rises, a man with a gun bursts through an exit door and throws a canister of some kind of gas. The shooting starts and for about 15 seconds that feels like forever, by the light of the movie screen, the silhouette of the man with the gun fires and fires and fires ninety shots into the scrambling, panicked, screaming crowd. Everything you took for granted — what everyone took for granted — is turning upside down and disappearing. The nightmare gets worse. The light from the screen is gone and you’re lost in darkness. There is a dim light by the exit at the rear of the theatre. Do you cover your wife and baby and, in urgent whispers, beg her to play dead? Do you grab her hand and make a desperate run for the exit? No one knows what to do. There is only screaming, agony and gunfire. Help is coming. You don’t know it, but brave police officers are rushing to stop the chaos and help you. They will be on the crime scene, your battleground, within an amazing 90 seconds. Meanwhile, your mind is on a loop: This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. Wake up!

Blind and shaking, you whisper to your wife everything will be okay.

You hear a roar in the darkness and a giant fist has crushed your face, your head, smacking you to the sticky floor. For all it describes, pain is such a tiny, inadequate word. Your last thought is of your wife and child and all the years you won’t have together. Your hopes and dreams are ashes at the whim of a crazy person with an assault rifle and a shotgun. The world fades to black.  The man will be arrested. Ambulances will be called and paramedics, urgent and sure, will be here soon. But it’s too late for you.

Almost. You’re still here, but lost to darkness.

You are Caleb Medley. You’re lying on a ICU bed in a medically induced coma and you’ll be in the netherworld between waking and dying for at least a week. Maybe two. You hear sounds through a fog. The disembodied voices of loved ones reach down to you from a far, high place. They whisper everything will be okay, but you’ve got to get better. You’ve been shot in the eye, but the doctors are hopeful you will live. Live, please live, because your newborn son is waiting in his mother’s arms. What you don’t know yet is that your medical bills will rocket up to between one and two million dollars. There are operations ahead. Rehab therapy will be hard. There will be bills for expensive drugs. You will lose  work and time. You’ve missed the birth of your son.

But baby Hugo will have his father.

What you don’t know yet is that we are watching in horror. You don’t have insurance to help with your recovery, but that doesn’t mean your life is over before your dreams have a chance to take flight. We are sitting at our computers and watching television and we are thinking about you. We’re talking about you and we’re worried. We’re shocked because, though we like to think we are powerful, this could have happened to any one of us or our loved ones. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and no one should have to pay for that forever. We know what we have to do. The human family is answering the call. We are telling others through social media, our blogs, our friends and our neighbors. We’re picking up our phones and gathering our forces. One madman can diminish us all in a sick act of violence, but working together, we can elevate everyone once more with our compassion. Humanity survives every insult and injury because of our compassion.

The SOS, your call for assistance, is spreading.

We will help in whatever way we can. You haven’t asked. You’re still in the netherworld, clawing your way back to us from the darkness, but we know what to do. We’re spreading the word and gathering money to help you and your family get past this tragedy. Sleep, Caleb. Rest. Your life is not over. You, your wife and your son will have a new beginning. We’re coming as fast as we can. Help is on the way. We, too, are brave, urgent and sure.

PLEASE GO TO SUPPORTCALEB.COM 

to help this young family.

We may not have much to give, but we have great numbers on our side. We are an army filled with compassion, so every donation, even a dollar, helps.

Thank you for coming to Caleb’s rescue.

(Need to know more? Check the links below.)

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

VIDEO: Yes, you could be Batman Jesus!

This week I posted about how the Internet rose up in indignation and, with one voice, condemned a small press publisher for his treatment of a writer and her work. The Internet has so much power for good when an idea goes viral. It’s not all about harsh German porn. Okay, a lot of it is, but we could do something really amazing here. You, sitting at your keyboard right now, could do something amazing. Joshua is a young man with leukaemia and he is suffering. I’m asking all of my loyal followers, casual readers and cranky haters to please harness that same fire we used for righteous condemnation to rise up and help ease the financial burdens on Joshua and his family during this terribly trying time. You know cancer sucks. Let’s punch it back in its smug face.

Please spread the word to help the son of author Max Cyn.

Raise the cause and raise the money and raise up this family.

If someone were drowning, you’d throw them a rope. If someone yelled for help, dangling from a cliff, you’d help. You don’t have to be Batman. It’s just tossing a little rope, but that still makes you a hero. This IndieGoGo campaign is about tossing this family a rope. Working together, we can help pull them up and out.

Please donate if you can and if you can’t, then just spread the word. Tweet (Twitter tag: #indiesunite4joshua), share, reblog, tell your boss, tell the woman beside you on the bus, whisper about it to whomever’s in the next bathroom stall. Spreading the word can help  immensely. Even small donations pile up. We’re very close to meeting this worthy charity’s goal, but there’s only 13 days left in this campaign so please help out Joshua today! Thanks for this. When you help this young man with leukaemia, not only will you get perks from awesome indie authors, you will feel a little like Batman. Or Jesus. Or both. ~ Chazz

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , ,

Is Give to Get wrong?

Recently I saw a note from a social media guru who decreed that we should definitely not “Give to get.” I’m really not too happy with too many rules. I didn’t go indie so people

English: One of my Ferrets, his name is Cincin

Image via Wikipedia

could handcuff me and tell me what to do. That’s what Valentine’s Day is for!

Have you noticed there are too many rules and they seem to be multiplying like ferrets high on Viagra? Quirky fact I learned today: A group of ferrets is called a “business.” Is that a semantic dig at business? Are we all a bunch of grubby, musky-smelling ferrets for holding ourselves out to the world as worthy of attention? Hm.

But enough ferret talk! What about you? If you give to get, would that be so bad? I don’t think it would be so bad, if it worked. I just don’t think it works, or at least it never works in any way you expect. For instance, this week I supported the IndieGoGo campaign for Joshua Moore, a fundraiser for a young man with leukaemia. Heavy, sad stuff which we all hope will have a happy, inspiring ending. I’m trying to help with that fundraiser because cancer makes me mad. My mom died of lung cancer and she never smoked once. That’s how unfair the universe is. Recently three friends of mine were diagnosed with varying forms of cancer. (When I say “mad” I don’t mean angry. I mean the “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun” sort of insane.) We spend finite resources on the wrong things instead of using it for medical research to save us from the scourge … (very long rant abridged for your protection) …

Then, from the totally trivial department, I started a tiny project on Twitter to try to get one of my favorite comedians, Mike Schmidt from the 40 Year Old Boy podcast, on another of my favorite podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience. Mike’s podcasts provide me with free weekly entertainment and, in a very generous move, he gave me the entire first season of his show for free last Christmas. I have a karma debt to him and I hope to make his random act of kindness pay off for him in a way he couldn’t have expected. Mike mentioned he’d love to be on Joe’s podcast and they already travel in similar circles. It’s amazing it hasn’t happened

Don't argue over parking spots with strangers. Or else.

already. I figured, “Hey! Let’s invite the next step to happen! It would have happened anyway. Let’s get it to happen sooner!”

I don’t really believe in karma because, from what I’ve observed, the universe just isn’t that well organized. However, I did feel instant karma with the first project. It feels good to give and Joshua’s family is in need. It’s a worthy cause and any time you’re feeling down, helping somebody else in any way you can makes you feel better. (Want to feel good, too? Go here.)

As for the second campaign, it’s pretty straight forward: If Joe Rogan and Mike Schmidt get in the same room for a podcast, the entertainment value alone is plenty reward. I love comedy and comedians (though, of course, the latter somewhat less so since many are big trouble up close and personal.) I have nothing to gain by trying to help Mike except more laughs. Show of hands: Who doesn’t think more laughs are worthy of our time? (Okay. You and you? Get out and don’t come back!)

Twisty and twisted. Click the pic for more.

People wringing their hands about the devious and ulterior motives of Give to Get needn’t worry. Giving to Get never really works in my experience. We can construct fancy plans to promote our ends, but there are many paths up the mountain and they are all hidden.

Case study: Once upon a time, I moved a thousand miles to a new city to open a new business. I didn’t know anyone, so I had to step far out of my comfort zone. I volunteered at a veterans’ home. I did free demonstrations and gave lectures. I taught classes and spoke to strangers in elevators. It was disgusting how hard it was on me. I was an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. (“Ahem. Still am,” said a small voice. SHUT UP!) I did a ton of charity work. I was out there with a missionary zeal and I was trying to meet as many people as possible so I could help as many people as possible. Much of it went under appreciated, under the radar and from my accountant’s perspective, was a waste of time and energy. Each morning I woke up very early, worried about where the money was going to come from. (Just like now.)

All that outgoing energy was sort of like Twitter, except back then I had to be annoying in person and some people were actually helped. Well…a few people. Mostly, all my plots and plans didn’t work the way I thought they would. People weren’t charmed. I did not form a swooning cult clamouring for appointments to spend time with The Magic That is Me. For quite some time, I got the feeling that, as a human being, I’m bad at being human. I suck at making new friends. I am, apparently, an acquired taste.

The business didn’t grow because of my plots and plans. The plots and plans travelled with reality, but in parallel. All my manufactured extroversion did nothing for me directly. I really didn’t know what I was doing. The word “flailing” comes to mind. Everything I thought should matter? Didn’t. And yet the business grew. Our plans do not matter. What matters is that we offer ourselves up and make ourselves available so connections we couldn’t have foreseen will emerge. I’m not talking about that Law of Attraction stuff. I’m talking about writing more books and being available so opportunity finds you ready.

Readers discover our work in organic ways not meant for mortals’ puny understanding. You dohave to put yourself out there to be found, yes. Write more books. Tweet. Help

What if God gives you what you want? What if you win an argument against God?

somebody out. Whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re out there in the world—preferably the cyberworld for me—writing anew and doing things and doing your best. The organic growth (call it luck if you like) will happen in ways you can’t now imagine (or at least in ways I can’t imagine because you’re smarter and braver than me. I’m winking at you, brother.)

What worked? In the case of my business from long ago, I met a special person at a lecture. She hired me and I managed to help her. I didn’t know how influential she was at the time. However, once I helped her with her problems, she sent a lot of people my way looking for the same service. Today she’d be my dream book blogger from Publisher’s Weekly who discovers my lowly existence and campaigns to lift me from obscurity’s muck and declare me worthy. Or, it could be something completely different. My point is, all that dreaming of perfect, beneficial synchronicities is pretty much useless. Just show up and something will happen. (Woody Allen once said a high percentage of his success was attributable to just showing up, which of course discounts his genius behind a camera immensely.)

You can give to get if you want, but for all its effectiveness, you may as well give for the sake of giving without counting the cost. I don’t think anything specific will help much. I used to watch Survivor. I learned two things from that show:

1. No one can pretend to be nice if they are not. Not even for a week, let alone a month! Not even for one million dollars.

2. Whoever wins attributes their win to their godlike intellect and meteoric guile. This, despite ample evidence throughout the television season, that they could have failed miserably but didn’t because someone else made a bigger mistake; dumb luck was involved; possibly divine intervention hit; or the crafty machinations of others came into play. When we win, we think it’s all on us. When we lose, we look for someone to blame who is not us. And if we win, who is to say the same path will still be open to those who follow you? (Modeling a good bet. I’d take that path, but there are variables. One indie author success won’t necessarily translate to another success. If that were true, we’d all be at number one already.)

Author Devin O’Branagan said something pithy to me in her forum the other day.She commented that no predictable marketing patterns are emerging that show a clear path to

Asia_Unbound

Are we ever free from our secrets? Find out here.

indie success. Several authors who hit it big did so in very different ways. Some people are sure they know the way up the mountain. Maybe they’re even right, but the paths are hidden and there is no one right way. I propose that their are too many variables to make broad statements about The Way. We’re going to have to Jeet Kune Do this problem, be like water and adapt as Bruce Lee insisted we do if we want to kick ass.

Get Vengeance and get surprised.

For Scott Sigler, the way up was free podcasts. Now there are so many podcasts and Podiobooks and Audible.com, that may not be The Way anymore. It might still be A Way, for some. I’ve discovered I love podcasting so I do it for the love and maybe some influential reviewer will find me that way. I do my weekly podcast for the joy, so I’m in Follow Your Bliss Mode on this one and if it gets more people to read my books? Gravy!

Some authors are convinced Goodreads is their salvation while Amanda Hocking found it didn’t do a thing for her. Some have found great success with KDP Select while Joanna Penn posted this week that she tried it and she won’t be doing that again.

If you give to get, are you a bad person? No. No one’s totally selfless and martyrdom is overrated. In giving, you will get something in (almost) any case. I’ve discovered there’s great satisfaction in sending out a free copy of one of my books to book bloggers. It’s of immediate benefit because it’s an immediate, easily achievable, finite task. (Meanwhile, editing and revising is forever.) Maybe they’ll give it a good review or maybe it will languish unread for months. Shrug. You might as well enjoy the moment. Last week I detailed my many forays into press releases and book marketing to find what worked. Nothing really did. Yet. (And that local newspaper columnist still hasn’t called about profiling me!)

So stop trying to control the universe! That’s right. Let go. Just flail. If you flail enough, you won’t sink. Get out there. Get wet. You might even end

The Dangerous Kind

Let's get dangerous. And kind.

up swimming.

Oh, I almost forgot: The other problem with Giving to Get is that if people think that’s all you’re about, they will write you off as a bad, opportunistic  person. You no doubt noticed by now that my book covers and their links to sales platforms are plastered all over this particular blog post. Ironic, no? (But I’ll save that discussion for another blog post since this is so long, no one is reading these words: Squirrel, skedaddle, opossum, leather fetish, pistachio, surreal, Topeka. See? Nobody read that. By now you’re just skipping down to the red letters, like in the Bible. If I’m wrong, post a non sequitur in the comments and see how long it will take for others to catch on. Haha! I’m so full of old rope and blue piss tonight, as my mother used to say.)

Have a charitable and compassionate day. Or make it one.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Unintentionally hilarious, Useful writing links, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , ,

We tell our stories. It’s not supposed to be about fame. Or is it?

Illustration depicting thought.

Image via Wikipedia

You’re at your computer. You’re in a coffee shop. You’re in your bed. You’re at your desk. You’re thinking of me reaching out to you through these words.

I’m here at my keyboard, typing these words, thinking of you and how isolated we are from each other.

I’m thinking about how isolation allows things to happen that shouldn’t. For instance, last week one of my pages was attacked in a creepy cyber way (and it still isn’t fixed completely. Costly tech support arrives today on a white horse, carrying new modems.) If the hacker knew me, he probably wouldn’t have done what he did. We’d kick back and have coffee instead. Our mutual isolation makes me a number. To him, I’m just another IP address, not a human being.

And yet, there is such potential for the electronic web that stretches out among us to pull into a tighter weave.

The Internet has such power and possibility if we can only figure out how to harness it.

For instance, this week on Kevin Smith’s podcast Plus One, Smith and his wife talked about how Mitch Albom hit him up for some help with a charity to feed a village of starving children. Albom needed $80,000 a year. Kevin generously got the charity ball rolling. Sure, if you’re rich, you can give. But if you’re rich and famous, you can give and alert others to the opportunity to give.

The Tiny Science of Your Fragile Humanity

Yes, a chance to donate is an opportunity. It’s your chance to provide aid. It feels good to give if you have something to give. It feels good because we are wired to be sympathetic. Our brains have mirror neurons that allow us to empathize so much we cry when we see an actor in emotional pain on a movie screen, even though we know it’s fiction.

Mirror neurons are that bit of biological microscopy and brain chemistry that make us human instead of irredeemable monsters bent only on survival by domination and murder. Boot camp, by the way, doesn’t turn off your mirror neurons, by the way. The discipline and brutality uses tribalism so your sympathy and courage is directed only to the benefit of your fellow soldiers.

That’s how you make good people do awful things.

To be creative and find an audience for your creativity is not just about making money. In fact, many artists would work for free (and many do) just for the love of art. Expression is often an inexplicable compulsion. If money comes, it is a side benefit. You hope to be paid for the fruits of your imagination, but wealth is something to be hoped for, not expected.

Seeing how privileged people use their influence to make the planet a better place, I see that I was wrong about fame. I undervalued it. I thought it had the potential to be a big pain in the ass, but that’s not fame’s only aspect. Now I see how it can be used beyond art. Fame can be a tool to help starving kids, for instance.

So many artists of all genres and stripes are poor. I wish you success (and much of the content here is aimed at helping you achieve it.) Success is important, but not just for you. Famous artists have bigger audiences. Famous artists make enough money so they can help others. There’s no nobility in a starving artist’s hovel. When you’re hungry, it’s very difficult to produce art.

 Getting paid is good. 

If you want to help the poor:

Don’t be one of them.

Recently, on The Biggest Loser, one of the contestants, Frado, found a way to use his good fortune to “pay it forward.” He had a clever idea. Frado won a session with chef Curtis Stone. Instead of just getting the expected tutorial for his family alone, Frado asked Stone to hook his name to a charity event. Stone cooked up some healthy food and Frado hosted five charities to raise more than $25,000. The hit and run tutorial would have come and gone. Frado found a way to use his newfound fame, and the celebrity’s chef’s notoriety, to make an impact on people’s lives.

It made me wonder, how can we harness social media, our fans and our followers, to help people in need? I think of the clients I know who have breast cancer or have had breast cancer. I think of my cousin and my neighbour, both hit with prostate cancer. My mother died of lung cancer though she never once smoked. These causes need research dollars. There are so many causes that need voices raised for them. There are so many everyday injustices and our silence is taken for complacency. I suppose, to my shame, that is what it is. 

I have undervalued fame. I didn’t think I should value it because that would make me shallow. Then I saw how fortunate people are using their fame in constructive ways. Now I have a larger goal beyond simple publication, teaching and the petty propagation of my little entertainments. I’m working on my books.  One day they will sell and I may achieve a little bit of recognition in some circles.

If we can get flash mobs together, how about flash protests and flash fundraisers? We try to make book trailers go viral. How about YouTube videos that show the needs that must be met. How about using our narrative powers to activate those mirror neurons so people are moved to help each other?

What then?

Better: What now?

Everyone dreams about what they’ll do if money comes their way.

What dreams can we light, as one flame fires another, with bright fame?  

What can I do in the meantime, in these mean times?

What can we achieve, working together?

We have the most power tools of connection and interactivity

that have ever existed. Now.

Please let me know your ideas.

There are too many hungry. There are too many sick. We will all be sick.

There are too few who are reaching out to draw the whole together.

We have to find the way. We can start small, but we must start.

You and I could make the change that others will not.

Let’s become WE. 

 

Filed under: DIY, grammar, Horror, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, Social Media, , , , , , , ,

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

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

Build your brand 6 seconds at a time

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

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