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

The publishing revolution already happened.

What to do now that #NaNoWriMo is done

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, with jokes.

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, but still has lots of jokes.

Start another book. Brainstorm or sketch out another book outline or write a short story or just sit down and see where else you can go at the keyboard. Keep that feather pen scratching. Keep going. 

People will tell you to celebrate. Writers (because we aren’t “people”) will ask, “What else ya got?”

You could take a break, sure. But now that you’ve done NaNoWriMo, don’t you feel you’ve got a good habit going? Habits are hard to break into. To get into the daily writing habit takes practice, just like you’ve been doing all this month. Why stop now? To publish, you must write a lot, rewrite, revise and edit. Good habits are too easy to drop for you to waste all that behavioural inertia you have steaming in your skull engine.

Now isn’t the time to put your feet up.

If you still have some scenes from your NaNoWriMo project that you didn’t fill in right away, you can do those now. Now is the perfect time. The context is still fresh in your mind. Tackle any empty spaces you’ve left behind so when you come back to it, you won’t become perplexed and stymied later. Otherwise, leave your NaNoWriMo manuscript alone.

Why am I telling you to start a new project as quickly as you can?

Because someone might be tempted to dive right back in so they have a novel by Christmas. You know you need some time to cogitate while the manuscript rests for a bit. Otherwise, the Nano haters will run in circles with their hands over their ears screaming, “I told you so!” None of us wants those killjoys to be right.

Besides, if you go back too soon, you might be discouraged at how much work the book needs. Or worse, some might think their rush job is still brilliant. That’s lethal to ever having anyone tell you they’re a fan of your work.

And now for the tough stuff. I’m asking that you hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at one time and act accordingly.

1. Congratulations! You beat NaNo! Good on you! I bet there were days when the words came quickly and days where it felt like your brain was full of molasses. However, you faced down time management problems and got it done anyway. Sometimes it wasn’t easy, yet, you got past 50,000 words! You did it! This is a huge accomplishment!

and

2. Writing a little less than a couple of thousand words a day is no big deal.

Yes, some writers are more precious about their word count and make a great show of how slow they can produce. Mostly? I suspect they’re counting procrastination time as writing time. Screw that. I come from a journalistic background where deadlines are not livelines. We slam it in and knock it out and we’re good.

At least take that attitude with the first draft so you’ll have something to gut and edit. Blank screens have no atoms and pixels bouncing off each other to create new neural pathways and fresh angles to feed reader rapture. The first draft is usually simple, straight narrative. I always find the jokes, dialogue and theme in the second pass.

Professional writers write to deadlines all the time and they do so consistently.

You know that now, so it’s not about what “they”, the writers, do anymore. It’s what you do because you’re a writer. Keep going.

We’re creative. Writing’s what we do to wield god powers and get back at our brothers and sisters. We do it because it’s much cooler at the Christmas party to answer “What do you do?” with, “I write.” Say that and you’ve got a conversation. (Try explaining your wage ape existence in middle management to a hapless stranger and they’ll run for the punch bowl.)

We do it for play, for love and money and hope and for readers. It’s fantastic to find a scene to write that, even as you’re knocking it out, you say, “This! This will melt their faces and make them want to read me for the rest of their lives and tell all their friends! Ta-freakin’-da!

Mostly, writing is what we do because it is who we are.*

*If you didn’t carry out NanoWriMo’s challenge this November, what better testament to your mettle than to do it on your own? Now. You’ll feel more smug and self-righteous this time around. There are twelve months in a year. You don’t have to risk waiting another year for the next party bus to take you to your life’s to-do list.

See you in the trenches in the morning

with 3,000 more words. If it’s a bad day.

Yes, you may stop writing

when you’re out of blood.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z's next and it's coming for you and the Queen's corgis.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z’s next and it’s coming for you and the Queen’s corgis.

~ Robert Chazz Chute wrote a bunch of beastly books, including This Plague of Days. Season One’s in paperback. If you’re a writer looking for more inspiration, Robert also recommends Crack the Indie Author Code. But he would say that since he is me and we’re all about inspiring writers not to be weak. We’re all about the conquering and hefting the bale and writerly whatnot. And writing about ourselves in the third person apparently.

What? Still waffling? Still? After all that? Holy Jebus! Read this review of Crack the Indie Author Code then, for the love of Thor and for the love of the sweet consumer that is you and your writing career! And your family’s writing career. Don’t forget to get Mom one for Christmas, too.

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Writers: Reality check

Aspire to Inspire eBook JPGPassion is more important than discipline.

Passion is the why. Discipline is the how that comes after the why. If you have passion for your writing, you won’t have to whip yourself to get to your keyboard. If you love what you do, it’s not work. It is play.

If you’re having fun, chances are your readers will have fun along with you.

Are you having fun with your writing? Is it alive and lively or are you forcing it? If you’re complaining about the work of writing, you haven’t hauled a huge wood stove into somebody’s basement down steep stairs, crawled through itchy pink insulation in a hot attic or dealt with some jerk from the wrong side of the Customer Service Counter. “I’m sorry, but if you don’t have a receipt for this blender…sure, you can complain to my manager about what a bad person I am for enforcing the rules everyone who isn’t a pinhead knows…sir.”

Writing isn’t for wimps, though.

As you write your next sentence, paragraph or chapter, dare to take the story in an unexpected direction. The expected direction is too easy. Your audience is people who read. They’re smart. They’ll spot the easy trajectory, the facile solution and clichéd dialogue. They’ll yawn and put down your book. Don’t let them. Keep them up all night, wondering. Challenge yourself and your characters more. Sure your heroine wins in the end, but who saw the inebriated monkey with the bandsaw coming? Only you could make that story arc work (wow, how awesome are you!)

Stretch.

Dare to be funny. Do some research so they’ll believe you and do some more so you can tell them something they don’t know. Let them hear your distinctive voice in their heads as they read. I once heard an author do a reading of a crime scene. It could have been any opening scene to a Law & Order (i.e. jogger finds beautiful corpse in Central Park/cops discuss). But she gave us flat characters and added nothing to make it different or memorable. It wasn’t just boring. It insulted the audience because the author expected to roll out her most minimal effort and earn applause. She received polite, golf green applause and I hated her a little for having to give her that much.

Write like it matters because it does.

In writing, you are creating new neural connections and giving your brain a dopamine bath. You’re reaching out to readers through time and space to distract them from our collective doom. Entertainment isn’t a “mere” entertainment. It’s an escape from existential horror. It’s respite from the retail hell for some poor girl in Idaho who needs a break after slaving all day in a Mrs. Field’s outlet at the mall. That girl needs to fill her brain with love, adventure, giggles and false hope or she won’t make it through another day of standing at that godforsaken counter praying for an asteroid strike and doling out diabetes.

Writing is one of the few things that is simultaneously brave and joyful.

Your profession is a daily act of compassion. Writing is Art, dammit! Besides feeding a loved one, kissing a boo-boo or strangling a mime, what could be better than a hot cup of coffee and the privilege of exploring the mysteries in an undistracted hour?

Writing is the best meditation.

When I can make myself laugh or cry with my words (and hope to touch another) it almost makes me doubt I’m soulless. When it’s especially good, our work has the power to stir emotions, learn the secrets our minds keep from us and maybe even squeeze meaning from stars. Don’t you dare complain you had a tough go at it today. You’re nothing less than a psychonaut divining what’s real and valuable from the deception others call The Ordinary. Writers know nothing is ordinary and our vision takes us to greater depths to pull our readers to heights. We help people fly through an otherwise egregious hour and make it feel like minutes in a better world. We’re the drug in the doctor’s waiting room. We make getting trapped, housebound in a snowstorm, worthwhile. 

Love yourself and love others by writing today.

Aspire to inspire others with your words and let your actions fall into natural alignment with your mission. Write!

We are writers.

We are the lucky ones.

Make it a great day.

Filed under: Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your new book publicity budget?

Free until Nov. 30, 2012. Click it to grab it now!

Gizmodo ran a piece on what to buy if you won the Powerball lottery. Almost all of their suggestions were pretty silly. (I admit, I kind of liked the RV that has its own built-in garage. My house doesn’t have a garage.) But let’s assume you’d try to help some people and you’d take that trip you’ve always dreamed of: Paris, Disney, Madrid, Paducah…whatever. You’d get your brother into rehab and your mom out on bail. If you’re younger, you’re thinking: red sports car. If you’re my age, you’re thinking how utterly drop-dead sexy it would be to be debt-free and have a college fund for the kids. You’d do lots of wonderful things for others (mosquito nets for African children so they don’t die from malaria comes to mind.) Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re a saint and responsible. We get it. Now let’s talk about your fantasy book publicity budget.

Here’s mine after giving this about thirty seconds thought:

I’m a podcast guy. With relatively little money (which I don’t have), I could get on a lot of podcasts and really make the most of what money I allotted to this project. I’d get on the majors: Slate, Rogan, Smodcast, Carolla, WTF etc.,… The next thing that comes to mind is to set up my website to sell directly, stock up and prepare for a big push. Major newspapers (they still print those, right?) would be a fun project. Imagine ad space in the top right hand corner of several key newspapers in major markets: Bigger Than Jesus taking up a quarter page. Turn the page, there’s Higher Than Jesus. Turn the page, there’s Hollywood Jesus, and so on. No TV. Who watches commercials anymore? A big launch party in a theatre (with Everlast as the closing act would be good.)

And I’d hit everywhere on one day. Heck, we’re talking Powerball. Let’s say, do it all in a blitz of one colossal week where my books appear everywhere you look and listen. If that somehow caught sufficient fire,then hire a publicist for the big tour in that fancy RV I mentioned.

Would it pay for itself? No. How could I justify the expense? I couldn’t, although I wouldn’t do a lot of things lottery winners do when they come into the big money, so there’s that.

That’s my frivolous fantasy. Your turn. What would you do to promote your books (besides quit the job at the rendering plant to write full-time)? Non-writers will wonder, if you win the lottery, why continue to write at all? If you thought that, get out! Get out now! I don’t understand you! SLAM!

I’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts on book publicity where money is no object. Please leave your suggestions in the comments thread below. Thank you.

~ Robert Chazz Chute fantasizes a lot. Then he writes that down. Then he scratches that out because you can get arrested if it look like an actual plan. Then he writes crime novels and no one’s the wiser. Enter the 7 Words or Less Contest and your name could be the name of a character in Hollywood Jesus. Get the inspirational book of tips, plots and plans about writing and publishing, Crack the Indie Author Code for FREE until this Friday.

 

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My crucial brain hack to win #NaNoWriMo

There’s a trick I use for problem-solving, plot twists, brainstorming and inspiration that really works. (I blogged about it long ago, but it’s so powerful, it bears repeating and you probably haven’t seen it.)  This writing tip will be especially useful to you if you’re a pantser, but plotters can use it, too.

I wrote Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus (each over 60-some thousand words in about a month for the first drafts) using the hypnogogic state. I wrote these thrillers chapter by chapter, covering at least a couple of thousand words a day. Most nights I went to bed not knowing what adventures and twists my hit man, Jesus Diaz, would face in the morning.

If you’ve read the books, you know  it’s always something surprising. Things go well and things go awry (mostly awry) in clever, unexpected ways. Getting into the hypnogogic state is not hypnosis per se, but this technique does access a state of mind that’s particularly useful for writers, especially during National Novel Writing Month where you need a lot of cool ideas in a short time.

To access the hypnogogic state for greater creativity:

STEP 1: Just before I go to sleep, I plant the seed. What question do I want answered in the morning? (e.g. What will happen to my Cuban hit man in the next chapter? How will he get off that cliff he’s hanging from?)

STEP 2: Go to sleep. No light in the bedroom, no TV. Beds are for sex and sleeping and that’s all. Turn your clock face away so the big glowing red numbers don’t taunt you. Avoid stimulants, alcohol and exercise late in the day. The magnesium in mineral water can help you relax, but don’t drink so much you’re up peeing all night. Do whatever you normally do to achieve a good night’s sleep.

STEP 3: Wake up slow. It’s far preferable if you do not wake to an alarm clock. The time between sleeping and waking is a precious time and you want to prolong it. (That’s what all that great stuff in Step 2 is about, so you don’t need to wake to alarm bells.)

In that time between sleeping, dreaming and waking? That is where you will access your creative genius and, as you slowly swim up to consciousness, ask yourself: What’s the answer? The answer will come to you in that special, relaxed state.

Sounds too simple doesn’t it? It works for me every night and every morning.

~For more writing tips, inspiration and motivation for your journey from keyboard to publishing, pick up Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire by Robert Chazz Chute. Chazz — a former newspaper journalist, magazine columnist and insider in traditional publishing — now has seven books for sale.

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Reminder: To plug your book…

…in two of my upcoming books, all you have to do is give me one happy line about ChazzWrites.com. (See the post below this one.)

In other news, a little post about Joe Rogan, inspiration, change and Here Comes the Boom from AllThatChazz.com.

Strap in! Here come the books!

 

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Writers: Who do you want to be?

Ever been to a writer’s conference or a Comi-Con? Both kinds of conventions have something in common: Lots of people who wish they were someone else. The exhibitionist dresses as Poison Ivy (and has very close friends willing to paint her ass green.) The twenty-something is dressed up as a sad Autobot made of cardboard. The writer wants to be an author. Of these three examples, it’s the writer who can do something more concrete and lasting about his or her ambition. 

I feel self-conscious, uncomfortable and sometimes a little claustrophobic at these events. Mainly, I’m acutely aware of the Us and Them aspect of the relationship. The “celebrities” are over there, with security, publicists, handlers and an aura of wary separation. We “wannabes” and fans are in the pit, reaching up, grasping at the edges of dark holes, daring to touch the light in search of heat.

We yearn. We have not attained.

As writers, we want recognition of our work. We want privileges and respect, too. That power is illusory, sure. Knowing intellectually how fleeting and useless it is doesn’t make that goal any less tantalizing. As powerless as writers are in so many ways, the indie author feels his or her potential most. That’s the power of seething delusion transmuted into hope by our next great idea for a book. Art seduces its creator first. Indie authors have few barriers to publication and little time to wait. All that kinetic potential can make you high. Unrealized potential can make you angry.

It’s not jealousy that gives me this grim face. My annoyance is at myself. I’m bothered that I didn’t plan out my life in such a way that I am who and where I want to be. I’m not a “wannabe.” I’m a “shouldabeenbynow”. I want to be comfortable being me. I don’t want to stand on the outside of that metaphorical velvet rope, wishing I were someone suffering the problems that success brings. I want it all and, as Queen sang, I want it now.

Someone will tell me I should be happy with who I am. Bullshit. From where, then, would my ambition come? Needing to escape makes me try. I yearn for that addictive, dopamine-fueled floating sensation that comes with the composition of new life. I long for happy readers extolling me for aping God. Sharing entertaining stories with huge numbers of readers gives me stamina for the late night attack on that difficult, late middle in my manuscript. Greed and ego give me patience for solving seemingly endless formatting problems.

Let’s be clear: Wanting things is not the path to enlightenment. That’s okay. I’m not on the path to enlightenment. I’m on the path to publication. 

Some people say greed and ego and recognition are unworthy stimulants to propel you on your course. I say, take your motivation where you find it and go forward, self-aware and honest. Clearly, I’m not in the spirit of these events. I’ll go to these things again when the organizers ask me to sit on a panel. I’ll enjoy it much more when there’s someone excited to speak with me, not the other way around.

Meanwhile, my place is at the keyboard

dreaming up the lies

that make me who I am supposed to be.

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Author Blog Challenge Writing Prompt: Describe how the idea for your book first came to you

English: The entertitle of Buffy made on Paint.

English: The entertitle of Buffy made on Paint. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My books come to me in different ways:

With Self-help for Stoners, I saw that I could fit stories of suspense into a framework of a self-help book made of fiction. When Director Kevin Smith inspired me to quit my day job and pursue my writing dreams, I realized that I could put together a fun, genre-bending bathroom book that would defy expectations. It came together quickly as a wild mix of the unexpected melded with observations, parables and exhortations (to get off the couch.) It’s a book that’s very different but somehow familiar. The feedback has been great, though I’m often surprised when people debate, is this pro-drug or anti-drug? I tell them it’s neither. It’s suspense that asks you to draw conclusions about your compulsions. It’s pro-freedom and freedom of speech. Yes, it’s important to have a label so people can find you and your book, but in this case, pigeon holes are for pigeons. It was quite a thrill for me to hand Kevin Smith his own autographed copy of the book and he was happy about it, too.

Sex, Death & Mind Control is the book that came so slowly, it’s appropriate to use the word evolution. I wrote short stories over several years before attempting longer fiction. Two award winners are included in this collection and it’s suspense that can be creepy and surprising. I don’t care for gore and it’s not at all pornographic, but sex and death are outcomes of the key factor through all the stories: various forms of mind control (magic, persuasion, mind games, coercion, trickery and self-delusion) form the book’s theme.

I’m fascinated by mind control. When powerful forces use it on us, we are in danger.

When we gain control of our minds, we will win.

The Dangerous Kind is closest to my heart. It’s a novella about escape. The place it is set (Poeticule Bay, Maine) is fictional, but the setting draws on places I lived when I was a kid and the town is almost a character in the plot. Anyone who has felt small-town claustrophobia will recognize and feel the resonance. There’s a deer hunt, intrigue and an inheritance between brothers on the line, but it’s really about complex relationships and the friction that comes from people who live too close together and only think they know each other. That certainly reflects my small-town experience.

I wrote several stories where I found myself drawn back to run over the same demon roadkill on the back roads around Poeticule Bay so one of my WIPs is all about the place. I’ll run those demons down, exorcise them or make them dance for my pleasure.

Finally, Bigger Than Jesus, my crime series, springs from my dim world-view. I commented on another fiction writer’s blog recently that the criminal world is so like the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Joss Whedon‘s series, vampires and monsters run amok, but the normies somehow look past all the mayhem to maintain the illusion of stability in their lives. Vampires attack the school and the principal says it was druggies on PCP. Victims suffer and die by night as people go about their business in sunlight. Organized and disorganized crime is just like that. I’ve spent some time hanging out in courtrooms as a reporter and researcher and the stories that unfold there are by turns tragic, comedic and horrific. Homelessness, drugs, violence, confrontation and small, surprising acts of mercy: People would be amazed what happens in cities across the world, much of the stuff bubbling from underneath is never reported in the media. When I’m writing this stuff, I’m often reminded how the Cohen brothers and Elmore Leonard have it right. A lot of bad things can happen on the easy and wide route out of town.

I don’t know if twisted and dim world views and angry childhoods are required for all writers,

but those elements help me come up with my ideas for my books. 

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How Kevin Smith Changed My Life

I had a secret worry.

Our walls are full of books. My curse was that many of my books are about publishing and how to write. There’s a good chance I’ve read every book in English on how to write and edit. My secret worry was that I would die and my children would be left with all these books, each one a reminder of the books I had failed to write. The idea of my wife and children seeing me that way scared the shit out of me. But I still wasn’t betting on myself. I wasn’t all in.

Then in November 2009

(UPDATE: Whoops! That was actually 2010 so I made the jump in one year)

I saw director Kevin Smith onstage in Kitchener.

I expected to laugh a lot and I did.

What I didn’t expect was inspiration. 

I had thought about writing full-time but I only thinking, not doing. I attended writers’ conferences and wrote novels I kept secret from the world. I had a few drafts written but hadn’t polished and submitted them anywhere. I’d won seven writing awards, but hadn’t leveraged that fact. I wrote the back page column in Massage & Bodywork magazine for several years, freelanced some speeches and marketing materials, ghosted a bit and edited for writers and publishers on the side. Still, I hadn’t committed to making a real change for me. I was helping to make other people’s dreams come true. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was ignoring my dreams and I wasn’t setting goals for myself.

I was waiting for…something.

Kevin Smith

Image via Wikipedia

Don’t wait. Take your shot.

Life is too short to wait to pursue your dreams.

I figured out the math. The risk I wasn’t taking was more dangerous than failing to try.

No matter how this experiment turns out, I can say I tried.

As you can see from the video, things have changed for me.

I’m having more fun. I’m putting myself out there.

Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High, is now available in paperback.

 The Self-help for Stoners podcast is on iTunes and Stitcher and six ebooks are up for sale just about everywhere.

Look for three novels coming in 2012.

Thanks for the laughs and the inspiration, Kevin!

I went all in before it was too late.

The curse is broken.

Filed under: book trailer, Books, DIY, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, Writers, , , , , , ,

Inspiration and Unreasonable Belief

I’m feeling the love at The Writing Bomb.

Thanks to Jeff for allowing me to spout off about inspiration, perspiration and what self-publishers need.

READ MY GUEST POST HERE.

Now please share with me, what inspires you?

Filed under: All That Chazz, ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, Writers, , , , , , ,

Writers: Chazz Law versus Masnick’s Law

A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...

Image via Wikipedia

Thanks for all the nice feedback and e-mails about Monday’s blog post on Amanda Hocking. There was so much, in fact, that I need to do a follow-up about the mistakes we make when we compare our potential for success with another’s. Some people see another author’s success as a door slamming shut on their own noses. These are people who believe Masnick’s Law (which comes from the music industry.) The idea is that only a certain band at a certain time had certain advantages that can’t be replicated. They came along at the right time or had just the right choice of sound, or the moon was in alignment with the stars etc.,….

In other words, if they make it, you won’t.

Wussies.

You might make it in a different way (Elvis ≠The Beatles) but if you have a great book, success can be yours. Amanda Hocking isn’t stopping you from succeeding. Not writing your book is keeping you from succeeding. (Not revising or hiring an editor, too.) Hocking took a machete and cut a path into the jungle. JA Konrath, Barry Eisler and many other authors who went the self-published way are forging ahead. When you see others succeed, take it as inspiration. Masnick’s Law isn’t a law. It’s a self-defeating fallacy.

CHAZZ LAW:

Art inspires more art.

Read it.

Rock it.

Roll it out.

(And don’t be a wuss.)

Filed under: authors, Books, DIY, ebooks, Editing, Editors, getting it done, links, publishing, Rant, Rejection, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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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