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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Book Promotion Services

FYI: Choosybookworm is holding a draw to give away a book promotion. They value the prize at $249.

Here’s the link to enter the draw.

About book promos (for novices)

I’ve been disappointed by Amazon ads and Facebook ads, but promo sites such as Bargainbooksy and Freebooksy are straightforward with fewer variables to worry about. These sites advertise discounted or free ebooks to their lists.

Paid advertising on Amazon and Facebook has many moving parts and a steep and expensive learning curve. If you’re looking for more book reviews or to promote awareness of the magic that is you, book promotion services are the simpler and easier way forward.

Besides the big promo sites, there are smaller platforms that can accomplish similar aims with less impact. Search for book promotion sites that are genre-specific (e.g. science fiction or romance). These services have fewer subscribers, but are more targeted and less expensive.

Free promotions get more eyes on your book. You might also get a few negative reviews because some free-seekers pick up anything indiscriminately, even if they don’t care for the genre. Don’t let that deter you. A book with zero negative reviews suggests it has yet to be read to a large audience (i.e. beyond its target audience).

Plan ahead for your promotions since dates fill up. I nabbed a Bargainbooksy the other day and received the earliest date available: Dec. 19.

If you get a Bookbub, plan your other promotions around that, so they stack. In other words, small promotions first and cap it off with Bookbub to get the attention of the Amazon algos so they sell your book for you. They want to observe momentum and traction in downloads before their recommendation engines kick in.

If your books are across more platforms outside of Amazon, you have a better shot at getting a Bookbub promotion, but that doesn’t mean you have to go wide to get that opportunity. It is harder, though.

These promotions work best when your aim is to promote the first book in a series. The first taste is free (or discounted). With a decent read-through, readers who otherwise would not have known you exist will discover you and buy the other books.

To promote read-through, give a sample chapter or two of the next book in the series. Make sure those are tasty or you’ll turn them off. Don’t give too much of the next book away. You don’t want them to feel duped that they got a much shorter book than expected. You want to give them a teaser, not engage in book stuffing.

Facebook groups like 20BooksTo50K are useful for a lot of reasons. Before paying for a new book promotion service, I search that group for reviews by other authors. Check up on their customer experience and return on investment to see if that latest book promo offer in your inbox is likely to pan out.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I write killer crime thrillers and apocalyptic epics. You’ll find all my books on my author site, AllThatChazz.com. Enjoy your crime. Revel in the apocalypse.

Filed under: book marketing, , , , , , , , , , ,

They’re going to kill us

AFTER Life INFERNO

is free today and tomorrow

AFTER was a medical miracle. Researchers weaponized it.

Deep in an underground vault, the weapon is waiting.

It wants out.

The Two Ways Series Fiction Can Go

Back when I was co-hosting the Self-publishing Roundtable (RIP), one of our guests was the amazing Wayne Stinnett. Wayne writes compelling page turners set in Florida. He had some interesting advice: In an episodic series, don’t raise the stakes. The adventure happens. The hero saves the day. Next book: new adventure.

Think of it like James Bond movies. Bond goes out, saves the world and comes back to save the world in the next movie. He’s eternal and unchanging. To my mind, the failing of the more recent movies with Daniel Craig is the focus on his age. In the first movie, he’s a terminator bursting through walls and new to the 007 license to kill. In the next, his superiors are ready to put him out to pasture.

In the movies, directors did the same to the original crew of the Enterprise. “Spock, am I too old for this shit?” As a fan I say this sincerely, we didn’t want to hear all that. In a perfect galaxy, Spock and Kirk are still out there saving us again and again. Kirk’s space karate is still strong and no one worries about arthritis. 

Wayne’s not wrong about the benefits of an unchanging protag whose focus is gunshoeing rather than saving the world once and then moving to Arizona to raise Alpacas. Sam Spade and Nero Wolfe never retired, either.

(For more of his excellent advice, check out Wayne’s non-fiction book, Blue Collar to No Collar: From Trucker to Bestselling Novelist in Two Years.)

That said, there is another way to go. Just know that some reviewers will kill you for it. 

In most of my series, I failed to take Wayne’s excellent advice. I raise the stakes. Stuff that happens in the first book has a big impact later on. Story arcs are long. Not everybody is going to like that. Not every casual reader has the patience to get a big pay off in Book 3 whose seeds were planted in Book 1. Alas, that’s usually what I’ve got for readers. I certainly provide thrills and jokes along the way, but the world-saving stakes are often built across multiple books.

I ran across a book blogger who didn’t like Tamara Smythe in Haunting Lessons. In the foundation book of the Dimension War series, Tam was an ordinary and innocent girl in her senior year in high school when she lost her high school sweetheart to the Grim Reaper. That’s how she found out she wasn’t ordinary. She can see ghosts and gets institutionalized for it. As her story develops over three books, she learns that our world has been invaded by interdimensional beings bent on our destruction. Tamara becomes a warrior on our side with blessed weapons and holy bullets. The blogger in question didn’t like it. She wanted Tam to be a badass warrior woman from the first page.

Okay, cool. There are lots of books like that and good for them. That wasn’t our story so my co-author and I didn’t write it that way. Across three books, we were able to tell a story with a bigger scope. And we got to enjoy training montages! People love training montages. From Rocky to the Karate Kid, that’s what makes up the bulk of those movies: learning, growing, changing, building up to kicking ass on a grand scale.

Another example, This Plague of Days definitely raises the stakes. The clues are there, but it’s a slow burn. First, we watch civilization fall. Through the lens of a mute boy on the spectrum, it starts out as a zombie apocalypse without a ton of zombies. As the action rises across the trilogy, the world-building is ambitious and many elements grow and change. New species develop. The Big Bad in Book 1 may seem over the top, but in Book 3, it is revealed why she does what she does and it’s a real kick in the brain pan. I could not deliver those twists within the confines of one book (unless that one book is the big honkin’ omnibus).

In AFTER Life, we follow a Toronto cop, Dan Harmon, into the depths of a weapons research lab. In the rest of the trilogy, he shares the spotlight with Dr. Chloe Robinson as they battle nanotech-powered brain parasites and sentient zombies bent on world domination. Surprising twists emerge that no one reading the first book could have foreseen.

My crime thrillers are a tad more episodic in nature. Jesus Diaz is the funny anti-hero who isn’t quite as good at being a hitman as he thinks he is. He doesn’t change much as a person. Kind of a slow learner. Even so, he messed with the FBI in Bigger Than Jesus. That doesn’t get forgotten just because he’s in a new city in Higher Than Jesus or Hollywood Jesus

Caveat: 

Writing more episodically, some readers may accuse you of “taking the easy way out” and writing the same book over and over. In most cases, they’re dead wrong. I have heard of an author who keeps the same plot and just changes the names and places. That’s not the norm. Conscientious writers publishing episodic series put a lot of effort into their books and aren’t out to provide any less of a thrill to their readers. I don’t think many authors go to the trouble of writing entire series with the goal of short-changing anyone. Sure, there are grifters, but most of us think we’re artistes, dadgummit!

But! And this is a big ole hairy day-glo orange monkey butt:

Many successful series are based on the episodic model and their fans love it. A lot of readers won’t give you a chance after the first book. Tons of readers want “the same thing, only different.” Just like Bond and the original Star Trek crew, the familiar is comforting. Many readers read for comfort. Books in series, particularly long series, tend to make more money.
If writing and eating is your goal, this is the way to bet.

One more time for the doubters in the back: If you want to make more money and catch more readers, refusing to raise the stakes and build castles in the sky might be a safer, more lucrative choice. 

If I had to do it all again, I tell myself I’d write under more pen names and make sure the branding of all my covers was entirely consistent. If I had to do it all again, I tell myself I’d write solely in long series instead of standalones and shorter series that continually raise the stakes until my protagonists are out to save the world instead of themselves. I should have been more strategic and planned series that power on for 27 iterations and go deep on one genre.

I tell myself these things, but I know I’m lying to myself. I don’t write that way, but I probably should have. Shrug. I’d take a lot of really good advice, if only I were an entirely different person.

~ Pick up your complimentary ebook of AFTER Life Inferno today or tomorrow. It’s a quick, breezy read that will get your blood pumping. (Lock the door, too. You’ll feel safer.)

For a look at all my thrill rides, check out my author site, AllThatChazz.com and, while you browse, hit the subscribe button.

AFTER Life is a fast-paced trilogy featuring flawed people, sentient zombies, and brain parasites with aspirations to take over the world. From a task force officer filled with regrets to a nanotech researcher charged with saving the world, the story arc is full of action and twists. The ending will surprise you.

The ebook for Inferno is free today and tomorrow to download at your Amazon store.

Filed under: writing advice, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guest Post: Mistakes Made

Reading Weep, I became impressed with Eoin Brady’s writing. It’s a compelling zombie novel set in Ireland powered by well-drawn characters. Recently, I reached out to him to share a bit of his author journey. Today, Eoin generously shares his missteps and how he’s correcting them. Thanks for sharing, Eoin! ~ RCC

Getting It Right Beyond the Writing

I can’t speak about success with much credibility. However, I’ve a good bit to say on the topic of failure, the prelude to success.

I’m Eoin Brady and I have published three books. One is a contemporary romance and the other two are in the post-apocalyptic, science fiction genre. There’s a fantasy series in the works, too. You can probably spot the mistake. Romance and horror under the same pen name. I’ll grant you there is neck biting in both, but there’s a little more ‘will they, or won’t they?’ with romance. 

My first book I’m Not Saying It was published in June of 2018. It bombed. You couldn’t hear crickets chirping on the sales dashboard because not even they knew to show up. To date, it has still not made back the cost of its cover and editing. It was a premade cover too, not all that expensive.

It was the first book I published, but not the first that I’d written. I shelved a nearly 300,000 word fantasy novel because it would have cost a fortune to have it professionally edited. If I was going to slip up, which was inevitable, I didn’t want it to be on something that I’d put so much time and effort into. I ended up putting a lot of time and effort into a different project and messed that up instead.

The story for the romance was set on Inis Meain, the middle and least visited of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. In 2017, I got a job on the island and moved there. I soon discovered that I get seasick, not great when you have to cross a stretch of the Atlantic to do your weekly shopping. On days off and after work, I wandered the roads and paths, filling them with my characters and their stories. I focused all my efforts on the writing and ignored what came after ‘The End.’ The result of that was clear. Nobody read it. If nobody could find my book then what did it matter that I lived in the location to make the story feel alive on the page?

What Went Wrong:

I’m Not Saying It is a contemporary romance, but you’d never guess that from the regency style cover. I wasn’t a big reader of the genre before writing it and that was a massive mistake. How could I hope to market a book to readers when I had no idea what their expectations were? You’re not reinventing the wheel. You’re trying to entertain people and hopefully make a living doing so. Who would I direct the advertisements to? Who were my contemporaries? What covers were working? I did not have the bare minimum information so I was set to fail before I started.

The Cover:

I bought a pre-made cover that was red and had a couple on it. That’ll do the job and save me a bit of money, I thought. Nope. There’s nothing contemporary about it. Might as well slap a chemistry text book cover on it. I had a product that was flawed because I didn’t understand the market. What authors could I target in my ads? Readers of Cecelia Ahern or Maeve Binchy? To me, they were romance authors, but their readership could be completely different. Would somebody fond of second-chance romance give my story a go? You’d get more steam from a cold kettle than you would from INSI, so was I pushing a sweet romance to a readership hungry for a bit of divilment?

The cover for my second novel, Weep, is a little closer to its genre expectations, but it does require a second glance and even then it does not perfectly convey the content within. You want your cover to let the reader know their expectations will be met. With so many new books being added to Amazon every day, people don’t have to spare you a second thought.

The quality of your story does not matter if you lose readers at first glance. I made it difficult to the point of impossible for people to find my story. If the process of buying a book from an unknown author is not as seamless as possible, you’ve lost. Even if everything was perfect, from your sales copy, cover and blurb, you’re still going to have difficulty enticing people to give you their finite money and time.

The Content: 

The main character, Shade, is a fully fledged travel blogger when we meet her. She has a fairly full bank account and is confident in her position as a seasoned blogger. Where’s the intrigue? It’s only now that I realise that the interesting part of her story happened before this book. I want to read about her failures. I want to feel anxious as the ticking clock starts and we watch as the dregs of her savings dwindle. Will she make it and be able to follow her dreams for a living? Or will she have to return to a 9-5 that she’s desperate to escape? As a reader I’m interested in characters facing adversity and watching them struggle, fail and hoping they’ll eventually overcome that failure. I’m not invested in a character that has made it without first seeing them struggle, but I’ll not stop turning the pages for one that might never achieve their dreams, yet still strives to.

***

My biggest failure was a complete lack of preparation outside of writing. When I first discovered that people wrote books for a living, that being an author was something that you could be, I swapped the fantasy section of my local bookstore, for the much smaller, writing craft shelves. I read as much as I could, but I realised that I wasn’t going to find a magic solution to becoming a writer. The fundamental thing was lacking; writing. Now in the modern age of self-publishing, it has taken longer for it to dawn on me that I should have been spending just as much time in the marketing section of the store.

It can be a little overwhelming when starting out. You are the writer, marketer,  copywriter, administrator and financier. Basically everything. I was riddled with doubt, but I then had to put that aside and try to sell a product with mock confidence when all I wanted to do was write. I suppose you can just write, but you won’t sell much.

So where to start? You can lose yourself in the many courses, seminars, classes, videos, books and newsletters available. I don’t know where I heard it to leave credit, but the self-publishing boom was compared to the gold-rush. Prospectors weren’t the wealthy ones. It was the people supplying them with the means to root around in the dirt who struck gold.

To deal with a sense of being overwhelmed, I overwhelmed myself by reading book after book on self-publishing. Initially, I had a broad focus and tried to stretch my limited time to do everything at once. I’ve started narrowing the focus of my efforts. Build up the basics and implement them before moving on. I dove straight into everything. Trying to do too much all at once just meant I did many things poorly.

Current Failings: Marketing

Marketing is vital if you want to be read. It is the voice of your story. Without it, you’re invisible. I’ve had a very slapdash approach to marketing so far. My daily spend is quite low. At the moment I’m running an ad for Weep and one for the free Weep novella to build my mailing list. 

Not long after the release of Weep, I set up a few newsletter promotions. It was free for a week and thousands of people downloaded it. Quite an experience seeing those towering columns on the sales dashboard. I’ve nothing to show for those numbers though. I never set up a means of holding on to those readers. If they reached the end of the book, there was no cookie to attract them to a mailing list. I had neither a cookie nor a list. Rectifying that has taken up a good portion of my writing time this year. 

Now I have a reader magnet, A Ring of Oak & Apple. That novella has nearly tripled the number of subscribers on my list. I wouldn’t consider it a success as I’ve not really engaged those new subscribers. I’m slow to message them, taking on lessons from previously jumping in without forethought. I’m quite happy to give that novella away for free as I feel it’s the best representation of my writing. If people enjoy it, then they might go on and read the rest of my work. It removes the apprehension around spending money on an unknown product. The newsletter is a long-term investment into your career. Progression is slow; words become chapters become books. Just as strangers become readers become fans. It seems like the best way of doing that is with a mailing list.

Marketing still seems daunting, but the monster you don’t know is a lot scarier than the one you do. By defining boundaries on what can be done, the task becomes manageable. 

My goal is to make a living by entertaining readers. I cannot simply achieve that by telling stories, I have to learn how to sell them, too. 

What Helps Me Write More

With a workload increase since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve had a lot less time to write. The only way I’ve been able to get words down with any consistency is with writing sprints. I set an alarm for twenty minutes and try to write as much as I can during that time. Twenty distraction-free minutes. When the alarm goes off, I’ll make a cup of coffee for the next sprint. I can usually get between 600-700 words each time. They’re by no means pretty, but nobody else will see the first draft. I’ve found sprinting coupled with planning has significantly reduced instances of writer’s block.

Planning

What good is sprinting if you’re going in the wrong direction? When it comes to what side of the fence I fall with regards to planning and discovery writing, I do both. I’ll try to work out the barebones of a story and create a scaffolding to build upon. I don’t know the characters all that well, but the first draft is where I discover them. Some people find planning stifles creativity. If that sounds familiar, then work with what suits you. Planning has saved me time and words. I’d be lost without it. Not planning has cost me an entire novel. 

Miscellaneous Mistakes:

I may have found the title of the autobiography that I’ll never write. Getting a cover wrong is a costly mistake. Over the last few years, I’ve bought covers before the books were even started. I ordered two covers for books that existed as little more than titles at the time. Take the Weep novella A Ring of Oak & Apple, for example. What has the  moon got to do with Irish zombies? Sweet feck all. It was commissioned for a romance novel. I had to retcon the moon and a ringfort of oak and apple trees into the novella.

The checklist for publishing a book can seem quite short, but the steps involved can take years. Getting the cover done felt like finally ticking off something from the list. It was creating an anchor point in reality for something that existed purely in my imagination. This could have worked if I had a solid plan in place. With a good enough plan, you could nearly write the acknowledgements for the last book of a series you’ve yet to start.

Solutions & Resources: 

Enrolling in Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula courses has been one of the best investments I’ve made for my writing. It’s an expanding library of content on most self-publishing topics. I reference it as and when I need. For my recent novella, A Ring of Oak & Apple, I went back over videos on blurbs, front and back matter and now I’m going into the marketing side of things. I’m an avid listener of the SPF podcast and that made me feel confident in what they were offering. For me, it was a way of reducing that sense of being overwhelmed by finding a place where most of what I needed to know was condensed into video lessons. Their Facebook group, The SPF Community, is a great place to find information on what is working for other writers.

Right now building up an email list is my main focus, outside of writing more books. I’m giving the Weep novella away to entice readers to join. Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque is an illuminating book on the topic.

David Gaughran pretty much covers everything on his website. https://davidgaughran.com. I also found his books insightful.

Tools I Use:

Canva: (Free). I use this to design all of my ad images.

Writing: Google Docs. I might give Scrivener a go on the next book. Right now though Google docs does the job.

Formatting: Vellum – professional formatting, easy to use, no qualms about this purchase.

Kindle Rocket – Keywords for ads and categories.

Mailerlite: Email newsletter.

Bookfunnel: Distributing reader magnet novella.

Website: Squarespace. My site is barebones, but it does the job for now.

Learning From Failure:

The experience of writing, editing and publishing INSI was invaluable and the lessons from those mistakes have been a great base to grow from. I plan to take that book down, rewrite parts of it and position it as number two in a new romance trilogy with genre-specific covers and published under a separate romance pen name. It was by no means a wasted effort. Mistakes make great fertilizer.

~ Eoin Brady is the author of apocalyptic horror, epic fantasy, and contemporary romance novels, most of which are set in Ireland, where he lives and writes. Weep, his most recent story, begins on the west coast of Ireland as a mysterious disease ravages the country. Find out more at www.eoinbradybooks.com

Filed under: book marketing, , , , , , , , , ,

My Book Marketing Mistake

The Night Man is Thriller of the Day at Kindle Nation Daily today!

Every author is asked about their mistakes.

In every writer’s forum and podcast, eventually someone will ask veteran writers what they’ve did wrong. The question is posed in different ways. The most common form is, “If you could tell your younger self what to do differently, what would it be?”

Many will say that they should have invested more in editing their first books. Others will say they should have ponied up for better covers, focused on building their mailing lists, written only in series, or listened to their mum and become a forensic accountant instead. I wish I’d spent more time learning book marketing.

I’d worked in traditional publishing and sold millions of dollars worth of books for other people, but that’s a different story about a dying industry. I began Ex Parte Press in 2010. Back then, there weren’t as many marketing avenues to travel. Many authors didn’t really have to work very hard to get eyeballs on their work, though. Our tools were few and dull, but the competition wasn’t as stiff and Amazon’s Gold Rush was on. There weren’t nearly as many courses out there showing authors how to amp up their media presence and ad buys. We were just feeling our way, often writing as many books as we could as fast as we could and flirting with burnout.

Some publishing guru asked recently, “You wouldn’t launch a book with a tweet, would you?” Well, no. Not now. But it used to be that it didn’t take much more than that if the book was good and cover and sales copy were on point.

I admit, I got stuck in some old thinking. I focused more on the editorial content and less on the marketing. My approach was not balanced. It’s a different world in plenty of ways and we all have to adapt. Yesterday, I attended three marketing webinars. To be honest, there wasn’t much there for me to take action on immediately. That’s the way of these things: Three hours in, you’re usually lucky to pick up on a one to three tidbits to use later.

Today’s tidbit:

Focus on what you can do to balance your writing and publishing business. You can’t depend on passive, magical thinking to pull readers’ attention. Book marketing is not osmosis. You have to write and market. Most authors are probably putting too much weight on one side of that scale. If you’re writing for yourself, that’s fine. If you’re writing to be read, the passive approach to too anemic to be healthy.

In that spirit, I’m promoting a suspenseful and surprising novel of which I’m very proud. My killer crime thriller, The Night Man is free to download today and tomorrow. I used Freebooksy, Kindle Nation Daily, Ereader News Today and Instagram to give away thousands of copies to get the attention of Amazon’s algos so they can sell it for me, aggressively, not passively.

Follow this link to see what a Thriller of the Day promo looks like. (And please do give it a click while you’re at it. Thanks!)

~ You’ll find all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: book marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers Needed

It’s too easy to devalue the writing profession. At a cocktail party, someone asks a writer what she does for a living. Upon learning they’re in the presence of a writer, the cocktail swiller smiles and says, “I’ve often thought I should write books once I retire. How hard can it be?”

“And what do you do now?” the writer asks.

“I’m an engineer. I build bridges.”

The writer smiles and replies, “I’ve often thought once I retire, I’ll give building bridges a go. How hard can it be?”

How hard can it be?


No need for self-aggrandizement here. I’m not equating building bridges with writing books. They’re distinct skill sets. In our defense, I’ll say many people begin to write books but far fewer finish them. And to quote Thomas Mann, “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

People tend to underestimate any calling that is low tech that has a low bar for entry, of course. With all that is going on in the world, writers can be forgiven for feeling inconsequential next to the heroics of doctors, nurses, and scientists currently trying to save the world. Many workers are risking their lives to keep civilization rolling on, despite…well…everything.

But non-essential does not equal unimportant.

If you write non-fiction, you’re serving specific need and solving people’s problems (I hope). If you’re writing fiction, that has plenty of value, too. We provide a respite and, by Thor, we sure do need some distractions from the onslaught of news. Too much news can be harmful to our health. Stay informed and stay as safe as you can, for sure, but don’t get addicted lest depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness set in.

Fiction does something else besides mere entertainment.

Fiction is an exercise in empathy. When we immerse ourselves in a narrative, we experience the world of the book. Writers put movies in readers’ heads.The story allows them to feel for the characters, follow their journeys, cheer for the protagonists and boo the villains. Children who read more show a greater capacity for empathy.

From the electro-webs:

“A 2013 study from the New School concludes that ‘reading literature improves theory of mind’ – ‘the capacity to identify and understand others’ subjective states.’ As the authors note, theory of mind is critically linked to empathy, that all-important ability to intuit and experience the feelings of another.”

That’s important, perhaps especially now. Yesterday, I read an article about how the decimation of the United States Postal Service will slow the mail. The damage done affects not only the hope of universal mail-in voting during a killer plague. Americans depend on the USPS for their checks, their businesses, and even their medications. One example is diabetic doses arriving two weeks late! The crippling of the post office will hurt people dwelling in rural areas worst. Courier companies don’t do that work and are far more expensive for the services they do provide. The USPS is so important, it’s in the US Constitution. It was a useful service before the US Constitution was written.

Then there was this gem:

In the comment thread of the same article, someone wrote, “I’m receiving my medications on time just fine.”

Great. So this guy’s observation boiled down to, “This issue hasn’t hurt or killed me personally yet, so everything’s peachy.”

Trouble isn’t real until it knocks on this uncaring bastard’s door. That’s a critical lack of empathy. That dude needs to read books that transport him into other people’s experience. If he doesn’t, an uncaring bastard he shall remain!

Writers, you are needed.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute and I need readers. Check out my apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers at AllThatChazz.com.

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

How to sleep more and get more reading done

(Or don’t)

I’ve written plenty here about how to get more writing done (See the previous post: Do You Believe in Writer’s Block?). But what if you could read more books and sleep better, too? No longer an empty wish, this feat is achievable for many people who aren’t currently managing it.

Caveat #1: If you’ve got young kids, don’t come at me. I’ve been there, I get it, and sorry, this post probably isn’t for you. As the parent of a young child, you will read more, but it’ll be a lot of Cat in the Hat and Goodnight Moon. Unless…see Caveat #2 below.

The first mindset shift is that you must prioritize you.


I have a sleep disorder. After consulting my sleep specialist, my doctor didn’t have much for me except sleep hygiene protocols. If you’ve ever had insomnia, you probably know them already. Make your bedroom dark and cool and free of distractions, limit caffeine, blah, blah, blah. Every insomniac knows this stuff. Losing sleep was killing my productivity so I had to finally get serious about acting on those tactics. One thing I didn’t anticipate was being liberated to read more books more often.

Second mindset shift: Nobody gets more time. You don’t make more time. You have to take it.

There are a thousand things to do each day and we’re all out here treating ourselves like overscheduled and underpowered robots. One of my most cherished chapters from Do the Thing is the to-don’t list. To-do lists are plentiful, unrealistic, and way too long. I’ve got things engineered so I do one adult chore a day. My wife does the same. Your Dad (like mine) might call you a lazy shit, but what does he know? He’s miserable and exhausted. The positive effects are cumulative so ignore the naysayers. What needs to get done, will get done. What wants to get done may have to wait. Minimalism is healthy. You’ll learn to deal with gearing down to what’s realistic. Be real, you weren’t getting it all done, anyway. My way, you don’t drive yourself mad. For your mental health, please don’t try to do everything that needs to be done all in one day.

Wherever possible, don’t multi-task, either. In the 1970s, some moron proclaimed that a human being can do seven things at once. Western culture has suffered for that idiot ever since. Other countries and cultures have siestas and sex in the afternoon. We got the gig economy and the all-the-hours-you’re-awake work week. Multi-tasking is bullshit. Split your attention and you end up doing everything poorly.

Mindfulness is peacefulness. To do anything well, do one thing at a time.

To sleep, perchance to dream, wind down with a book.

We’ve all fallen into the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram rabbit holes, but in the search for more sleep, I stumbled on the way out of social media’s electro-warren. To get a good night’s sleep, I had to stop looking at screens after 8 pm (aiming for an 11 pm bedtime).

Switching out of work mode and into relaxation mode, I can’t watch TV or cruise social media obsessively until bedtime. After I’ve washed the dishes, I’ve got two or three hours of empty time. I don’t want to be bored, but I can’t get overstimulated, either. It can’t be a glowing screen, so I choose paperbacks.

Yes, I could wear sunglasses and there are apps to alter screen glow, but at night, my mind races. I have to exercise the discipline to consciously slow down and a good paperback serves that purpose. A chapter or three is a logical stopping point. If you can scroll forever, chances are you will. The internet has no logical stopping point, so it’s never done.

I tested my hypothesis this morning. I joined my wife in bed as she woke up and we scrolled through an Instagram thread of cute babies doing sweet baby things with no thought to the time. That’s a quick way to burn 45 minutes or so. Babies and dogs, man. I could scroll videos of babies and dogs forever.

I used to wake up at 3 a.m. and stay awake until dawn, tossing, turning, plotting books, and plotting against my many, many enemies. Since changing things up, four of five nights, I’m getting seven or eight hours of sleep. I’m reading more and sleeping more. I feel less like something on the bottom of someone’s shoe, too.

It only took a global killer pandemic for me to reevaluate how I work and relax. Things are getting better. I hope this helps you, too.

Caveat #2: To distraught parents, if you’re still in baby days, you will find reading for pleasure is a challenge. However, depending on the age of your kid, you can still get away with reading anything you want as long as you read to them aloud and they don’t understand you. Go ahead. Read that gory horror story in a soft, soothing voice. It’s possible you might scar them for life, sure, but that’s how short people with skulls full of mush grow up to be interesting adults, right?

~ Looking for something to read tonight? Check out the links to all my grand and fabu offerings of science fiction and crime thrillers on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: getting it done, reading, , , , , , , , ,

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Ever feel like a second-class citizen? Of course you do. Read this.

I last published on Christmas day, 2019. I’m very proud of Citizen Second Class and entered the year eager to dive into producing more novels and audiobooks. Then COVID-19 hit and, expecting to die horribly at any moment, the fire in my belly was extinguished. My OCD tendencies turned all their energies to wiping down doorknobs, hiding in my blanket fort, battling insomnia, and nagging my son about safety protocols. (To be fair, though he’s lost a year of school, the kid’s a real sport and I’m glad to have him on our team.)

As 2020 ground slowly on (what was May, 83 years ago?) my creativity and productivity faded. I’m still not the killer crusher I was on the word count front. I am improving for sure, but I still feel like I’m crawling out of a deep hole. Publishing five times a year without sacrificing quality or my senses was normal for me. I expect to publish two new books by Christmas: a prequel to This Plague of Days set in Ireland and a novel in the Citizen Second Class universe (which looks remarkably like plague-ridden Florida and Texas at the moment.)

I have a lot of books, so instead of writing, much of this year has been devoted to shorter bursts of fun stuff and to-do list chores: posting to social media, marketing and Amazon ads. The administrative stuff I used to do between writing sprints became the main thing. I’ve turned that model upside down and I’m back to prioritizing writing again. I promise myself to do one adult task a day. The rest of the time is for diet, exercise, and getting my writing career back to firing on all cylinders.

What are my weapons in this battle?

  1. Distance and distancing. Sorry, Americans, but being Canadian is soothing me at the moment. It’s generally safer up here in America’s hat. However, my wife works in the school system and will be returning to work this fall. Our relatively safe situation could turn to shit quite easily. We haven’t figured out how to handle her return to work yet. Dousing her in hand sanitizer and setting her on fire at the end of each day has been discussed, but I’m told that proposition is “shelved.” I’m not sure what that means, but now I’m afraid to ask.
  2. I am Captain Comorbidity. If I get it, I’m in grave danger. To give myself a chance lest I wind up on a ventilator, I went vegan almost two months ago. I’m losing weight and trying to eliminate a couple of the pre-existing conditions that could mess me up permanently. It’s working pretty well so far. I feel better and lighter. I even started growing my own food in our quarantine garden. So far, that’s yielded some lettuce and a cucumber crop of one cucumber. (Follow my daily accountability posts on food, exercise and writing on Instagram at robertchazzchute.)
  3. Insomnia absolutely robs my productivity. I feel run over the next day and can’t work. It’s been bad for years. Since COVID, it got worse. I have a sleep specialist to help with my sleep disorders and I spoke to him this week. The news was a bit disappointing. All he really had for me was sleep hygiene (protocols I know intimately already). However, with no other way out, I doubled down. Last night, I got three hours sleep. Two nights in a row before that, however, I got seven fairly solid hours. After the good nights, I have creative days and crush my word count goals.

    Healing my sleep is a process. I’m sticking with it because the alternative is miserable. Besides, with me sleeping in the cool basement under an open window and She Who Must Be Obeyed still in our bedroom, her sleep has improved.
  4. I stay home, of course. With the sunny days, I’ve taken to working outside. The blanket fort is nice for cold weather. Getting fresh air and sunlight are parts of my sleep hygiene protocol. Writing on the back patio is quite pleasant. I’m getting more words down. Good words. Words to publish, words to last.

    If you can change where and when you work, you might change the negative associations you may have with the attempt to settle down behind the keyboard. Try reframing and you might like the picture better.
  5. Very few people feel like running hard every day (and those few are being chased). I mean, THE COUCH IS RIGHT THERE! Lazy is easy. Distractions are easy. Doing shit is hard.

    Here’s how to make it easier:

    The hardest part is pulling on your sneakers and getting out the door. If you don’t feel like running five or ten miles today, tell yourself you’re going light, an easy two miles, all downhill and slow, with a tall cold glass of Guinness at the end as a reward. Once you’re out the door, resting inertia is overcome. You’ll probably go farther.

    So it is with writing. Don’t tell yourself you’re writing a book today. Your just going to put down maybe 500 words and see how it goes. The hardest part is starting. After that, momentum will probably carry you beyond those first, modest goals. And if not, not. A little done consistently is better than nothing done ever. It’s okay to take a day off. Writing is fun, remember? If you try and you’re really not feeling it, it’s okay to take a little time to recharge. You’re the boss.
  6. As detailed last week, I’m using accountability to keep me going: progress meters (see mine and the link to get yours from my author site AllThatChazz.com.) I’m also enjoying word sprints each Sunday, inspired by the Mando Method Podcast.

    Harness the power of a pre-existing writing community post your word count success to Twitter with the hashtag MandoMethod. Let #MandoMethod know and maybe author extraordinaire Armand Rosamilia himself will give you an attaboy!

That covers accountability. What else you got, Rob?

A friend of mine, author Gordon Bonnet, wrote a very down-to-earth post about his travails with writer’s block…or is it really writer’s block? Could changing fonts really help? Gordon’s got the scientific goods on his excellent blog. Have some tea and load up on the sympathy as you read his post on Skeptophilia. The post is titled Font of Creativity

Anything else?


When all else fails, grit your teeth, bear down, and deliver that baby.

~ I write apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Find all my books and more blog posts at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: writing, writing advice, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s some fun

My Top Five Books

Never ask a writer which is the best book they’ve written. That’s like demanding they choose their favorite child. It’s mean. However, gun to my head, here are my personal top five (and why).

If You Go to Nova Scotia

Do you aspire to improve your Maritime spycraft? Who doesn’t? Here’s how to blend in. For starters, don’t order the lobster.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute, a suspense writer who pens apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Subscribe for all my posts at my author site, AllThatChazz.com.



Filed under: All That Chazz, Books, , , , ,

Curious about my criminal past?

Brooklyn in the Mean Time

If you can’t remember your sins, are you still guilty?

A long time ago, I ran away from home. Coming back is going to be murder.

On the run from bad debts and dangerous people, petty criminal Chazz Chute tries to start over and do things right. However, his father doesn’t know him anymore and his brother wants him dead.

The mystery grows as bodies fall in this action-packed suspense thriller. 

I’m conducting an experiment! Please download my suspense thriller. It’s free, today only!

~ For more killer crime thrillers and apocalyptic epics, check out my author site at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: Books, , , , , , , , , ,

This Week in COVID Counterattack

I’ve written a lot of apocalyptic fiction. In novels, I could never get away with writing many of the real-life scenarios we’re experiencing. It wouldn’t be believable. Or, at least, mass dumbassery wouldn’t have been so believable until 2020.

I like to write about intelligent characters. I don’t like fiction that requires people to be stupid to make a plot work. But here we are, in a universe where data gets denied, any mild inconvenience for public health is Communist oppression, and the President’s press secretary says, “Science should not stand in the way of schools reopening.” High school yearbooks will get a lot thicker, what with all those In Memorium pages.

But I’m not all about the condemnation. Well, I am, but I also propose solutions. Enjoy this week’s blog posts from my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Better Safe Than Sorry, Part I

“Cautionary Tales” and why we aren’t paying attention to the experts trying to save us from ourselves.

Better Safe Than Sorry, Part II

Free masks? Screw you! Complete with awesome and amazing Bill & Tedish video! Plus celebrity deaths!

Solutions to the Mess We’re In

Wearing masks will stop the spread. The examples of Japan and New Zealand are right there! How can anyone fail the test when they already have the answer key? We still have so many people who won’t cooperate in saving everything they hold dear. What to do? How do we get through to these people? Persuasion Techniques! (Sex included.)

My favorites are 6 & 9. How about you?

~ Hey, while you’re on the author site, check out the books. Buy a book. Buy all the books. Sign up for updates about more books. Yeah…that about covers it. Thanks!

Filed under: COVID19, My fiction, robert chazz chute, weekly update, , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

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 can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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

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