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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Scary Notion: Will we be remembered for just one thing?

A friend of mine is a director. A few years ago, he came out with a documentary. He was eager to talk about it with me on a podcast. “This is my Star Wars,” he said. As in, this is my magnum opus. As in, maybe it’s all downhill from here. As in, this would be the one film for which he would be remembered. The movie is Where’s My Goat? It’s really good. You’ll laugh, think and cry. I recommend it. You’ll probably end up donating a goat to a third world country.

I must confess, the idea of anyone’s best work being behind them while they are still alive is frightening.

You can do a lot of amazing things but people tend to be remembered for one thing. I remember my grandfather for the one time he told me to shut up. I vividly recall the image of my mother chasing me with a wooden spoon (and smiling because we both knew I was running into a dead end.) I remember the last angry words I exchanged with someone who had been a friend since childhood. He ended the sentence with, “Bud,” but he said it ironically. I still want to hook that guy in the gabber.

If we, as writers, are remembered for one thing, what will fans choose?

Alan Rickman fans of a certain vintage think of him as Hans Gruber from Die Hard. For the younger generation, he’ll always be Snape. Rickman was a major star of screen and stage, but he’s one of the lucky ones in this regard. Despite all his talent, people will probably think of those two roles, first and last. That’s unusual. 

Throw out any name of a writer, singer or actor and memory becomes reductionist quickly.

Prince? Purple Rain. Bogart? Bogart is always Rick, forever in Casablanca. Mohammed Ali? “Rumble, young man, rumble!” Hemingway? The Old Man and the Sea. Rick Astley? Never Going to Give You Up. (Still love that song and I don’t care if it’s become an internet joke.) Elvis? Dying on a toilet. David Carradine? It was Kung Fu for years, but autoerotic asphyxiation wiped that memory. Careful how you have sex and careful how you die, folks!

We can take a few of lessons from this phenomenon.

The first is, be prolific.

If you do a ton of stuff, it’s hard to boil your legacy down too much. Robin Williams comes to mind. He did so much that our memories of him are many and varied.

Second, don’t be a jerk.

People remember if you’re a jerk and that can put a serious dent in your legacy. If you are a jerk, do a lot of stuff that makes your fans forgive.

Case in point, Robin Williams had a history of abusing drugs and alcohol. He ripped material from a few comedians (and paid for it, after the fact.) He also helped a lot of destitute people financially, insisted the homeless get hired to work on his productions and worked tirelessly for many charities. I still tear up thinking about Robin visiting Christopher Reeve after his catastrophic accident. Superman was in a hospital bed contemplating quadriplegia when a crazed Russian doctor burst in. Robin stayed in character and was, predictably, hilarious. Broken and depressed, Reeve laughed for the first time since breaking his spine. Robin also paid his friend’s hospital bills. I remember a lot about Robin Williams, but that story sticks.

Third, don’t think about your legacy too much or it will paralyze you creatively.

My magnum opus, so far, is This Plague of Days. One of my works in progress is a new zombie apocalypse. People like zombies. It’s fun to write and, yes, I want a hit. I almost didn’t start the new book, however. It was intimidating. Hadn’t I said all I wanted to say on the zombie horror front? Thinking about the prior book stopped me cold on the new one.

This Plague of Days is a contained universe with epic themes. No sequels. No prequels. When I finished the trilogy, I knew doing anything more would be going for a payday instead of servicing the story or entertaining my audience. Could I write another without shivering in the cold shadow of TPOD? At first, I didn’t think so. Then I started writing it. Don’t think too long before you start writing.

It’s not just the zombie book, though. I worry that everything I write will be compared unfavorably to This Plague of Days. If TPOD is my Star Wars, shouldn’t I stop? I liked the first movie from 1977. I’ve liked each film in the franchise since a little less.

What if your best book is your first? That’s a fret.

I loved Jay McInerney’s first three books: Ransom, Bright Lights, Big City and Story of My Life. Then I thought he began to write more self-consciously. He seemed to be trying for a Pulitzer or trying to impress the New York Times book critic. The fun and lightness was gone. I wandered away from a writer I had idolized. I didn’t feel good about it, but he wasn’t writing what I loved anymore. Maybe he matured and I didn’t.

Starting Out in the Evening, starring Frank Lengella, is an instructive movie for writers. Langella plays an elderly writer who achieved success early, entered academia and remains iconic for the work of his youth. A young writer praises his first book but denigrates his second, saying it didn’t live up to the first book. The old writer replies, “You blame me for not writing the same book over and over.” Mic drop.

So, my next zombie apocalypse won’t look like the last one. It won’t be what readers may expect, but then, This Plague of Days wasn’t what they expected, either. For those who don’t know, TPOD is mostly about a kid on the spectrum watching the world fall apart. Jaimie Spencer is an unlikely hero. He thinks in Latin phrases. Killer viruses evolve to three strains with different effects. Bio-terrorists turn into vampires, sort of. The zombies aren’t really zombies. I offer a smidgeon of hope after a road trip through hell. Secrets of the universe are revealed. It’s surreal, gory, global, philosophical and insane. 

In my new zombie book, the hero is just as unlikely, but he’s is more like Jeff Lebowski than Jaimie Spencer. If you like Kevin Smith’s style of funny dialogue and Shawn of the Dead, this new one will be your flavor. Ultimately, I have to write for me first and hope readers want a ticket on a new and different crazy train.

For readers of Stephen King, the fan favorite by a landslide is The Stand. (It’s my favorite King book, as well. I emulated the same structure and large cast in TPOD.) King has said that it’s a little disturbing to find that, with such a long and productive career, many fans’ fave is a book he published in September of 1978. 

However, I’ve enjoyed many other books by Stephen King. You don’t write to outdo another of your books. You just write as best you can and have a good time doing it. In the end, I decided to put This Plague of Days out of my mind as I write the new zombie apocalypse, or any other book. No sense looking backward. We live forward. Sometimes we top ourselves. I hope to do so with every book.

Oh, and that director friend of mine who thought Where’s My Goat would define his career as a documentarian? You have to see his follow-up. It’s called Regret. If that one defines his career as a filmmaker, I wouldn’t be surprised. He should be proud.

Maybe being defined by one creation wouldn’t be so bad, after all. No regrets.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. Check out my author site at AllThatChazz.com. Create freely. Write bunches. Live large. Make love often. Have sex like you’re on camera.

 

 

Filed under: publishing

Writers: Are you wasting your time?

A lady found out I was a writer. “That’s so cool!” she said.

“Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you?” I said.

Youtube stars make more money. Singers don’t have to write so much or so long and can do the same performance over and over. Writers may work for years on one project (though I don’t recommend that.) We rarely attract adoring crowds.

Another guy, upon finding out I write, asked, “Is it worth it?”

“Is it worth it?” I echoed, vacillating between anger, sadness and not understanding the question.

“Yeah,” the guy said. “Do you make any money at it?”

“Any? Some,” I said. Jesus! How did a random chat with a stranger suddenly turn into a shitty conversation with someone I don’t like at a family reunion?

That was one of those uncomfortable moments where, in the mind of another, I was a loser. (Not my first time.)

I wasn’t getting rich off what I was doing, so why bother? I did not measure up to some easily quantifiable standard. The dude wanted to know me by numbers and I’m all about the words. He wouldn’t be satisfied if I told him that ‘writer’ isn’t a title or a hobby. It’s my identity. I’d do it for free. I did it for free for years. Then the doubt creeps in. Maybe he’s right. I could do things that would make me rich but I would not love those things. I’d be divorced, bitter and 48% more suicidal if I did those things.

The doubt remains, though. Am I satisfied? Am I remembering to have fun? Not always.

Many writers are forgetting to have fun. We talk to each other about marketing a lot, but not so much about craft. We emphasize that writing is hard work. It’s not. It’s hard play if you’re swinging the bat right. Still, the writer’s persecution complex persists. If you aren’t having fun when you write, maybe you aren’t on the right story. Or maybe you’ve forgotten horrid alternatives (like cleaning the grease trap at Arby’s).

Time for some healthy perspective.

Recently, I wandered through an art fair. Some of the artists were incredibly talented. I’m sure none of them were rich from all that paint and passion, yet they return to this same art fair, year after year. On a Sunday morning, for a scattering of browsers, they presented their art to say, “Look what I did!” with unselfconscious pride. You see that same pride on the face of every little kid who wants to slide a new drawing under a fridge magnet.

The artists who are only there to sell look miserable. The happy ones talk about history, inspiration and process. (I suspect the ones with the joyful attitude sell more, too.) Is every painter who fails to sell their work for millions wasting their time? Is every athlete who failed to get gold, silver or bronze a failure? Our life metrics are skewed toward what gains the most attention.

Reboot.

Much of our angst comes from focusing on what we don’t have, namely huge success. We want to crush our enemies, see them driven before us and to hear the lamentations of their women. Wait. No. That’s Conan the Barbarian.

Let’s focus on what your writing career means to you. The destination in your mind may not exist. The money may not come. Your art may never justify your existence to your parents. Even if you do make a big number, Dad will say, “Not enough.” There are always larger numbers you didn’t achieve. So why bother?

Writing is about the journey first (and maybe always).

Success and failure come and go and notoriety does not hang out for long. Fame is slutty, always looking for a younger, fresher face. Meanwhile, the pure of heart just want to tell stories. We remain at our desks. We write because that’s who we are. It’s apparently a genetic disease. I don’t know why I do it. I only know I must.

Sometimes, yes, I still forget to have fun.

I am not above jealousy and envy. I’ll hear an author on a podcast talking about his or her mega-successful book and the new boat they’re buying courtesy of Amazon. I have to shut that shit off for a while and clear my head. I go for a walk and pump myself up with some Good Charlotte. I wallow in My Chemical Romance. Then I kick an innocent tree, get over it and get back to work. Envy and jealousy don’t serve me. They surely don’t get the next book written. Only I can do that.

When you have to pee but you put it off to finish a chapter, you know you love it. When you forget or don’t have time to shower, you’re on the trail of a big idea. When you feel a spider crawling on your arm but you have to finish typing a sentence before you can deal with it, you’re in deep. Endorphins wash through your skull and you aren’t at your desk at all, anymore. You’re fighting dragons, falling in love for the first time all over again and murdering your enemies in hilarious clever ways. There’s the joy.

Until Hollywood comes calling, I’ll settle for a small but dedicated following who dig what I’m slinging. My readership is growing, though not as fast as I’d prefer. Still, I’m loving my life now. I’m not waiting to be happy later. I get into my stories. I go deep on funny, snappy dialogue. I craft with cool words and pull plots over my head. I’m doing what I want, hanging out in coffee shops, writing more books and inviting my readers to tickle their brains so we share a common hallucination.

Keep pushing. Keep writing. Keep having fun now.

The readership you seek and the recognition you hope for may be closer than you think. Maybe you’re about to break out and go huge. (I feel like I’ve been on that cusp several times.) Be glad you didn’t wait to be happy. You can always smile now with conviction, clarity of purpose and coffee.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute and I write suspenseful books about good versus evil, bad versus evil and saving the world with hugs and blades. Check out my crazy train at AllThatChazz.com.

Oh, and here’s one more random encounter for you:

When a lady found out I’m a writer she blurted, “Do you want to be famous?”

“I want to be read. That’s sort of like famous, I guess.”

“What’s the difference?”

“When you’re famous, you have to wear a baseball cap and sunglasses when you go out in public. When you’re read, you infect readers with mind viruses and play piano with their brain stems. Writers are mostly faceless, even those who sell a lot of books.”

“So you don’t want to be, like, famous famous?” she persisted.

“If I were, like, famous, famous, I suppose people might be nicer to me when I nip out for some groceries.”

“Paper or plastic?” she asked.

And, I thought, if I were famous, people wouldn’t be asking me about what I’m not or what I might be. They’d be talking about what I did.

 

Filed under: publishing

The Curse of the Literary Snob

Recently I listened to mega-successful author Paulo Coelho on the podcast On Being. I recommend the podcast when you need calming voices discussing big questions. The interview made me think about how I write and what I might improve.

Something Coelho said resonated with me. He spoke of visiting his Japanese publisher and finding a single flower in a lovely vase in a sparsely furnished room. Coelho commented about how pretty the flower was. The publisher responded that it was elegant because no distractions in the decor detracted from its essence. It came to Coelho that elegance was found in simplicity.

This gave me pause. Intricately plotted and densely written books are often not well-received. It is tempting to break down failure to catch fire in a snarky way. You might guess that, in accordance with Chris Rock’s worldview, most people are B and C students. If you don’t appeal to B and C levels of understanding, blame the audience and claim you are too smart for them. (Please don’t do this publicly or everyone will hate you.)

Because Rock is a comedian and attributes the George W. Bush presidency to under-informed voters, condescension is a very seductive idea, isn’t it? It flatters any writer who suffers disappointing book sales. If people don’t “get it,” it’s their fault. Trouble is, writers are supposed to be communicators. If your book fails, is it really because you aimed too high or because you didn’t engage your audience?

Good communicators find broad audiences. As Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” If you’re aiming your book at an intellectual niche, fine. Do your thing, embrace the low sales and don’t complain about it. A better way may be to take those high falutin’ ideas and share them in such a way that they are more palatable and entertaining. We must write to entertain first. If you have world shattering thoughts to share, slip that shit in between the jokes and an engaging plot, please.

For a sharp example of this kind of communication, I recommend John Oliver on Last Week Tonight. He tackles complex subjects in a way that is engaging and more understandable than most news sources ever manage. You laugh and you learn. You discover something new but you enjoy the journey. A good book can do that, too, like when Fight Club teaches you how to make soap with stolen human medical waste. Fun ride, plus some solid tips on making napalm!

Usually when we speak of elegant writing, we think of poetic, dense and literary prose. Is that truly elegant, though? Or is it a slow slog that confuses and darkens more skulls than it illuminates? When we read, it shouldn’t feel like work. Work is what we’re trying to avoid when we’re reading fiction.

And now a sour note about literary snobbery that might make you uncomfortable, especially if you’re an English major of a certain vintage:

Yes, I tried reading Middlemarch and Ulysses. Are those books so well known because we their original audiences had fewer entertainment choices? Are those books still taught in university due to some strange cultural inertia unique to academia? How many people say they like that stuff but never get to the last page? Do they say they like that kind of reading because they think they’re supposed to? I’ve heard people say they love Ulysses. They might think they’re telling the truth. I don’t believe them.

And now, a timely Woody Allen joke: 
Interviewer: I really enjoyed your movie.
Woody Allen: You’re mistaken.

You can like what you like. That’s okay and not my point. Like what you like and write what you write. However, if you write like James Joyce now, don’t expect it to sell.

I once worked for a publisher committed to only creating “important books.” I’m sure he impressed his guests at fancy cocktail parties in Rosedale. Sadly, fewer important books were published because he quickly went out of business, unwilling to bend to the desires of the reading public. The books that some might call trash actually finance those niche works they claim to value so much. 

My measure of a good book is as follows: Does it make me forget what time it is? I love curling up with a book that keeps me turning pages, that tells a story and makes me wonder what will happen next. I love surprises. I enjoy things happening. I want the scene to come so alive that my mirror neurons fire and I am made to care about people who do not exist. I want to chuckle or even laugh loud and long. Awaken longing in my cold black heart. Make me think if you like, but not so much I realize what you’re up to. (Read Portnoy’s Complaint, read To Kill a Mockingbird again or devour any book by William Goldman for examples.)

Assuming elegance is found in simple writing, editing is the knife that prunes the bonsai tree. We cut away the extraneous so simple beauty shines through. Write first to entertain. I used to be resistant to this idea. Now I think that sometimes, yes, I done fucked up.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I’m in the brain tickle business but I generally make readers happy they found me. Check out my author page at AllThatChazz.com. Buy my stuff. Laugh. Cry. Read like crazy. Occasionally projectile vomit.

Addendum: My favorite exchange with an English major.

Student: I love reading books so I’ve just started studying English.

Me: Hate it yet?

Filed under: Books, publishing, writing, writing tips

Ten tips for better book covers

One of my jobs is managing correspondence for Kit Foster Design. After seeing many cover briefs from authors, I came up with an information packet we send out to streamline the design process and to avoid common pitfalls. Here are my suggestions for common issues to consider:

  1. Don’t try to tell your whole story with your cover. Cramming too many elements onto the cover makes the art busy and confuses more readers than it helps.
  1. Don’t try to tell the whole story with your back cover text.

Cover text isn’t usually more than a couple of hundred words. Have a look at the sales copy on the back of your favorite books in your genre. Writing sales copy is a different skill set than writing a novel. Invite reader interest and seduce them with a tease, not an info dump. Sales copy that is too long goes unread. Big blocks of text are intimidating and turn off the browsing public.

  1. A character or characters in your narrative do not have to match the look of the figures on the cover exactly. Covers are meant to convey lots of things (see #4) but the reader will not be checking the cover to make sure it’s a match once they’ve started reading your book. There’s a difference between a misleading image and being trying to match the vision in your head perfectly.
  1. Book cover designs are not just pretty pictures. They are designs meant to sell books. To sell, the cover design must convey several elements:

A. Fit the genre expectations. If a cover is too different from what readers expect of a genre, they become confused and browsers will not buy your book. They don’t give out points for originality in this regard so, sadly, a cover that is too weird doesn’t set your book apart. Browsers look for reasons not to buy and they don’t want books too far from their expectations.

B. Fit the age of the reader.  A design for an adult book that is too juvenile either won’t sell or you’ll attract the wrong readers. Better to have no readers than the wrong readers. If you attract the wrong readers, they’ll punish you with their reviews.

C. Fit the tone of your work. A horror novel looks like a horror novel by its images, font choice, and tone. Every genre has its tropes which tip off the reader as to what kind of reading experience to expect. The text must deliver on the promise the cover makes.

  1. Consider what your cover looks like at thumbnail size. Online catalogues present cover art at thumbnail size. Small details are often lost. This is of special concern if you are planning to publish an ebook only. Go for singular, epic or iconic themes, not background details no one will see without a magnifying glass.
  1. Some may disagree, but we do not recommend that you add a suggested retail price to your back cover of your printed book. That custom is a hold over from agency pricing. Bookstores better know at what price they can sell a book and they’ll be putting a sticker over your price, anyway (if you get into brick and mortar stores.) It is not required, limits your flexibility and adds to your production time if you want to change the price later.
  1. Rely on your designer for opinions on what works. Kit has held me back from mistakes and I’m grateful he saved me from myself. If you don’t like one of my covers from the past, undoubtedly it’s because I wasn’t getting the design from Kit Foster Design at the time.
  1. Plan your cover well ahead of your publication date. If you’re still writing the book, you are not entering into the design process too early. The authors who have the most trouble with their designs treat the cover art as an afterthought. Please try to avoid a rushed job and consider the face of your work carefully. 
  1. Occasionally clients will ask to use images that we cannot do. For instance, you can’t have Shaq or LeBron James or David Beckham on your cover without paying for it. Celebrities have brands that are protected and they demand high prices for the privilege of using their image for commercial purposes. This applies to trademarked images, such as corporate or team logos, too. Also, if you plan to merchandise (with t-shirt sales, for instance) that’s a higher level of image license. You’ll have to purchase that second tier level of licensing to use stock images for merchandise.

10. Ebooks with white covers need borders. Otherwise, the image floats in space in the catalogue and looks odd. Odd doesn’t sell. Paperback covers with borders are problematic because, due to the tiny shifts during the printing process, the border will print unevenly and appear off-center, even though it is correct in the design. Don’t use a border for your paperback.

~ I work at KitFosterDesign.com. I write books of various sorts of suspense, too. Underneath all this blood spattered armor, I’m a man child with Daddy issues, a boiling cauldron of rage and a sweet, gentle soul (of which we must never speak.) I’m Robert Chazz Chute at AllThatChazz.com.

You can read about that blood spattered armor and the dimension war for free in The Haunting Lessons, if you sign up for my newsletter here.

 

The Haunting Lessons  (Large)

Filed under: publishing

Publishing: Seeing things as they are

A few friends of mine are pinning their hopes on literary agents and traditional publishing contracts. Independent publishing is not for everyone so I don’t try hard to dissuade them. Traditional publishing is not for me, but people have their reasons. No need to rehash the why. Let’s delve deeper into building a better how.

If you go hunting for a contract with an agent or publisher, know the game and the real odds.

  1. Many people call themselves agents. They are not all equal. Research them so you don’t waste time sending book proposals to people who do not have the connections and talents you require.
  2. If you find the right person, make sure your work fits their submission guidelines.
  3. Check out the agent’s social media presence. How do they talk about writers they reject? Is snark their brand? If they are obnoxious to those they turn away, they’ll eventually be obnoxious to you. Is that someone with whom you want to be tied in a business relationship? Professionalism should be expected on both sides of the desk.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, you can still approach many publishers directly. Many editors would rather you didn’t do that. However, behind closed doors, some will admit they often check everything that is sent their way. To make that work, you’ll have to do deeper research on the editor and their work history. Your best bet is to be recommended by an author with whom they already work. Sidle up to targets rather than attempt a clumsy full frontal attack.
  5. Expect delays. No matter who you send your work to, you’ll be waiting a long time for a response. Since you’ll be doing most of the ongoing selling and publicity of your work, are you still sure you want that publishing contract? You might make much more money going on your own. In fact, according to Author Earnings reports and the number 70%, the way to bet is on yourself.
  6. Agents are not as important to authors as they used to be. They didn’t used to have to justify their fees. At conferences, they used to be chased into the bathroom (between official pitching sessions.) Though conferences are the most efficient way to meet a bunch of agents fast, the fees and costs probably aren’t worth it if the meet, greet, pitch and press is the only reason you’re attending a writing conference. Agents don’t represent all genres equally so, instead, research before you take your shot. Stay home. Sit back and choose your targets carefully from afar. (Writing conferences are fun places to hang out with other writers. Go for the drinking and new friends.)
  7. A rejection from an agent that details manuscript problems may be useful. Often, rejections do not detail the why of your sorrow. You might have received the same or better feedback from a freelance editor, beta reader or reviewer. There is no practical benefit in building a pile of reject letters as the years pass in the name of “skin thickening.” Your skin is probably about as thick or thin as it will ever be. Rejection isn’t training you to be a better writer (though, sadly, you may be convinced erroneously to give up.) Don’t fall for the “pay your dues” thing. “Pay your dues,” usually means, “No.” It often doesn’t mean more than that. Sometimes psychopaths use those three words to get work out of young people for free. Avoid.
  8. Whether you’ve submitted to an agency or publisher, the person who pushes your proposal forward or rejects it is often an intern or other inexperienced person. Youth and inexperience doesn’t make their evaluation wrong necessarily. I worked the slush pile when I was young and inexperienced, too. In the year I worked at Harlequin, I found one manuscript for the publisher and one manuscript that was good but paid no attention to the publisher’s guidelines and druthers. Pay attention to druthers. Despite the enormous size of the slush pile, it is often remarkably easy to reject unsolicited submissions because so many writers didn’t pay attention to the expectations of the genre, the publisher or the English language.
  9. Accepted or rejected, try not to take feedback too seriously. Even if they like your book, there’s an excellent chance the deal won’t come together or will go sour. Believe the dream is coming together when you see your book on bookstore shelves and you get paid. (Get paid!)
  10. The closest analogy to getting a trad pub deal is the lottery. Even smaller publishers receive a staggering number of manuscripts and they’ll only pluck one or two new writers each year, if that. Agents can’t handle an infinite number of writers. You may be waiting for their established writers to die in order to get picked up. People do win the lottery, but if we were better at math we probably wouldn’t spend so much money on those tickets. We’d invest in ourselves instead. 

If you’re going to play this game, know the odds and never stake your entire writing career on only one book. Agents and publishers prefer authors who have dozens of profitable books in them for years to come, not one precious gem.

I’m not trying to be cynical. There are good agents out there, but please do see the business as it is, not how you wish it. It is art and commerce. When both elements come together it can be a beautiful collaboration. Beautiful collaborations are rare in publishing.

BONUS 1: If I wanted a trad deal, I’d probably look to my old connections in the book industry first. When that failed, I’d delete one set of gatekeepers and send proposals to editors and publishers directly. Or I’d find a rabbi in the business, like an older author who could give guidance or guide their editor my way. If accepted, I’d contact an entertainment lawyer (AKA intellectual property lawyer.) You pay your agent forever. You pay a lawyer once.

BONUS 2: Authors sometimes speak about “choosing” to go with an agent. That’s the ideal dynamic. It should be a business arrangement where you are partnering with someone in the know. However, it’s so difficult to get an agent, that’s not how it usually works. Typically, a writer gets an email out of the ether saying, “I’d like to represent you.” The writer says yes without reading the contract.

Read the contract. Please read the damn contract.

Don’t go hat in hand and, for the love of Thor, have some goddamn dignity.

Don’t be too eager to celebrate too soon.

These waters are shark infested. Stop swimming in a bathing suit made of bloody meat.

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes stuff. Suspenseful stuff. Crime and horror and sci-fi, oh my! He finds the occasional use of sentence fragments winsome. Chazz also enjoys talking about himself in the third person while chewing on writerly thoughts. He sleeps naked and thinks out loud nakedly. Check out his non-naked author site at AllThatChazz.com.

My latest book, Wallflower is a time travel novel about a suicidal comedian saving the world (with Kurt Vonnegut’s help.) Yes. You read that right. Now go check it out here. Expect jokes and snappy dialogue. The secrets of the universe shall be unveiled. Hint: the universe is pretty fucked up.

 

Wallflower (Medium)

Filed under: publishing

This Is The Modern Publishing Business

Beware.

David Gaughran

asandfriendsnewScammers used to operate at the edges of the publishing business, but have wormed their way into its heart. And the entire industry is in denial.

An unintentionally revealing aspect of the tiresome Amazon-Hachette dispute was a series of statements from an organization purporting to advocate for authors’ rights. One of the heinous crimes Amazon was said to have committed was treating books like toasters.

With such a claim, Authors United was attempting to tap into a current of feeling about the commoditization of literature – as if Amazon was the first company to put a price tag on a book, and writers around the country were hitherto living off laurels and kudos. It’s tempting to suggest that other entities in the publishing business might be doing as well as Amazon if they also treated books like toasters and attempted to sell the bloody things, but I digress.

What this…

View original post 529 more words

Filed under: publishing

WORST SEX SCENE IN A MODERN NOVEL – A Special, Rotting Post Competition

Oh, for the love of Thor, NO!

The Rotting Post

Just how horrible can a sex scene in a contemporary novel get?

This is the critical question we at The Rotting Post intend to answer.   We will offer two of the worst descriptions of sex ever recorded in a serious novel as our finalists.  And you the reader can choose for the winner!

worst sex 2

Needless to say, there are many ways to write a bad sex scene.  Before we get to our more current examples, let’s see how David Guterson did it way back in 1994, in his hugely successful, “Snow Falling On Cedars”:

He held her tightly in the curves of her waist, and after a while lower, at her hips…

Then his hands left her hips and traced the line of her waist and traveled along up under her dress to  the clasp of her bra…He undid the clasp without struggling and pulled the shoulder straps down…

His hands…

View original post 1,031 more words

Filed under: publishing

How Janet Evanovich Writes

Live to Write - Write to Live

I recently picked up a copy of Janet Evanovich’s (with Ina Yalof) How I Write – Secrets of a Bestselling Author (2006.) The book is written in question/answer format which makes it a little tough to read (no real continuity) BUT if you can stick with it, it’s filled with tons of good information from a very accomplished (and fellow Granite Stater) writer.

janetI have yet to go to see an author without someone asking if the writer is a “pantser or plotter” A pantser writes by the seat of their pants and a plotter outlines and plans what they will write (for the record I am a 100% plotter.)

It’s the question everyone wants to know – how do you do that voodoo that you do so well? Read how Janet answers this question in her book:

  1. Q. How do writers set up their books? Do you outline…

View original post 319 more words

Filed under: publishing

Chewbacca Mom Is Everything That’s Wrong with the Internet

Lorca Damon

I know, I know, I’m a little late to the “let’s all hate this woman and her infectious laugh” party, but it’s taken me this long to really care about the issue. And now I do. Thanks to the asshole who made it all about me.

Back up: this lady posts a Facebook Live thing for her own friends and family to enjoy. Her little slice of discounted retail item heaven is so uplifting and happy place-inducing that it goes viral. First, she gets a visit from a major retailer who thanks her for all the free exposure of their store with a few more Star Wars-themed goodies. Yay. Then she gets a few TV appearances…more yay. Then somehow, that translates into scholarships for her children…what the what?

Of course, it took about twelve parsecs (that’s a Star Wars references for those of you who simply aren’t cool enough to…

View original post 388 more words

Filed under: publishing

The Joy of the Staying the Hell Home

Most writers I know are trying to get out of their day jobs so they can write and do nothing but write. I’m in a bit of a different situation. I have four jobs. My wife, AKA She Who Must Be Obeyed, has three. We have plans to change that crazy trajectory but, for now, this is how we live.

Getting pulled in so many directions can be stressful, but it must also be said that we’re generally pretty enthusiastic about all we do. Nonetheless, precautions must be taken so exhaustion and burnout do not burst our overtaxed hearts. Not working ourselves to death is generally a good thing. That’s why I’m on vacation this week.

It’s not the sort of vacation where I lounge on a sun drenched beach. Who needs skin cancer? I’m not touring castles. I mean, castles are cool, but all that walking and bad food? Pfft! It’s not the sort of vacation where I fly anywhere. Especially since 9/11, air travel is a nightmare. I’m not enthused about the ordeal of going through security, allowing people to be rude to me and getting packed into a tube with irritable strangers for a death-defying trip on Air Schnitzel. I am staying the hell home.

This is a writing vacation and I couldn’t be happier. On the first day, I piled up 6,802 words. That might be a personal best. I can focus on creation and do nothing else. I don’t worry that I left the house unlocked or the stove on. I don’t have any other tasks looming overhead. What luxury!

When the economy went south, someone invented the term, “staycation,” to make a virtue out of poverty. We all need vacations though we don’t all get them. I am grateful for this opportunity. Don’t hate me because I’m relaxed. I’ve worked hard for this.

I know the story I want to write and it’s going great. It’s going so great, in fact, that I am about halfway through a new novel. I’ve committed to completing the first draft this week. The bulk of the rest of this year will be devoted to editing and publishing the many book projects I’ve managed to pile up in the last six months. You may call me lots of nasty names, but you can’t call me lazy.

I am always reluctant to take any time off but She Who Must Be Obeyed insists and she’s always right. Without fail, I return to work fresh and full of new energy and new ideas. 

My vacation’s writing schedule is full. I know it’s not a vacation in the truest sense. I really mean that I’m down to doing one job: writing stories to melt hearts, tickle brains and make you say: ah-ha, ha-ha-ha, oh my gawd and wowzers (repeatedly, in no particular order.) Since I’m used to juggling four commitments, one job seems remarkably easy, especially when that one job is writing. I love writing. I’ll even get more reading done this week, too.

I’m having a great time. If you want to talk, email or dance the samba, I’ll be available next week. If you haven’t had a pure writing vacation this year, I urge you to plan one if you can. When I make the big move back to having one job and one job only, every day will be like this: coffee, couch and laptop. Writing is the one job from which one can never really retire. Happily so.

Love and kisses to all (substituting man-hugs where appropriate.)

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Catch all my sexy hexy texty epic weirdness at AllThatChazz.com.

 

Filed under: All That Chazz, self-publishing, writing, writing advice, , , , ,

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

All the dark fantasy fun of the first three books in the Ghosts & Demons Series for one low price.

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

You never know what's real.

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.

Write to live

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

I interview the people you need to get to know.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,805 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,805 other followers

%d bloggers like this: