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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Just added to the blogroll: Kindle Homepage

The back of the Kindle 1 (Left) and Kindle 2 (...

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Kindle Homepage: The Inside Scoop on all things Kindle.


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Authors! Part II: Top Ten Lessons from the Networking Master

(If you missed it this morning, Part I is immediately below this post.)

I’ve seen my friend the master networker in action for a long time. Peter’s helpful to everyone he meets. I’ve rarely visited him when he didn’t have a bunch of out-of-country house guests he was sheltering. (He’s helped me out with shelter many times, in fact.)  Peter grew up in rural New Brunswick, but on his first day in Toronto he walked down Yonge Street and met 11 people he knew by name. Not surprisingly, they all knew him, too. People are always happy to see Peter.  

It’s not all that complicated…and yet, most of us aren’t like Peter. Why is that? We could be, you know. Let me break it down for you. Try to do the following things for one month. See how many more friends you make and how much richer your life can be. Yes, I’m working on it, too. 

Here are the Top 10 elements that make Peter the master networker:

1. Be interested. He really wants to know what you’re about. No fake or canned questions. 

2. Be friendly. He’s fast with a smile and he loves a good joke (hearing them and making them.) 

3. Be interesting. Peter is interesting because he’s an extrovert who has a huge comfort zone.(Oh, yeah, there’s the thing I lack. Introversion is one way I get in my own way.) 

4. Be open to opportunities. Peter decided he wanted to learn Portuguese in middle age, so he did. He didn’t think about how hard it would be. He doesn’t get in his own way so now he can speak casually in Portuguese with the Brazilian ambassador to Canada and now owns several businesses in  Brazil with his partner (who, by the way, has all these same qualities and I love him, too.) Peter has a lot of experience with people because he makes himself available and gives of himself. Notice I said I would have simply thanked Sue for the bookmark and moved on? I’m comfortable writing and emailing. He’s just as relaxed face to face. I have to work on that. (When I was a reporter, talking to people killed me. Later, as a book sales rep and publicist, I got better at it, but I still procrastinated sometimes. Still do, occasionally.) 

5. Focus. When you’re talking, Peter’s paying attention. 

6. Be engaged. He’s not waiting for the second you shut up so he can jump in and say what he wants to say. 

7. Talk about them, not you. Sue didn’t find out where we were coming up with publishing industry knowledge until she asked us directly. We told her, but not before she cared to know. 

8. Be nice. That’s not hard, is it? Well…if you don’t have that already, I don’t think it works to fake it. The only thing I’ve learned from watching several seasons of Survivor is, if you’re a jerk, you can’t fake being nice for anywhere near a month and not even for $1,000,000. If you, now, reading this, aren’t sure you’re a jerk, ask yourself this question: Is everyone you meet a jerk, idiot or moron? If you answered yes, I’m sorry to tell you, it’s you. Find out why you’re a jerk. Work on yourself. Try talk therapy and/or antidepressants. 

9. Relax. Peter can go to a party and if he doesn’t already know everyone there when he arrives, he will when he leaves. I’m shy and uncomfortable socializing with a group of strangers. For Peter,that’s how he has fun. When I relax and come out of my shell, I notice I have fun, too. 

10. Make people feel great about themselves. He doesn’t lie. He finds the best in people and, oddly enough, that tends to draw out the best in people. 


11. He never thinks of it as “networking.” I think Pete would just call it “living.” He lives so large

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, , , ,

Authors: Networking Lessons from the Master (not me!) PART I

Cover of "Get Known Before The Book Deal:...

Cover via Amazon


By master, I’m not referring to me. I’m referring to my friend Peter. We are each other’s oldest friends and he’s a master of human relations. I have lots to learn from him. I’ll get to that in very straight forward terms (i.e. the ever-popular Top Ten List in Part II coming this afternoon), but first, a concrete example:   

I attended Word on the Street with Peter in Toronto. I got Peter his first job in publishing and he was fabulously successful at it. He’s now a shipping magnate, but he still has a keen interest in books (reading and writing them.) After we met up at the book fair, we’d made it about twelve feet through the crowd before an author offered him a bookmark to advertise her book. If it were just me, I would have smiled, thanked her and moved on. That’s why I’m not the master networker. Peter is, so he asked what her book is about. The author, Sue Kenney, wrote of about her pilgrimage on Spain’s Camino. Sue was very nice and her book sounds interesting. Peter had travelled the Camino so he was especially enthused. (Peter’s a world traveller, too, so he’s been everywhere and sometimes it seems like he’s done everything. Somehow, he never makes you feel bad about that. Ever watch The Amazing Race? That’s Peter’s life without the humiliating mini-games along the way.)   

Peter asked Sue a couple probing questions and it sounded like she was well on her way with her book (and two others.) Most important, she already had a movie deal, she’d already sold a lot of books on her own and she had a spirit of adventure and a great personality. What she needed was an agent and a publisher to break out. In a few minutes I’d suggested a couple of ways to search for the right agent and Peter threw out a couple of names of Toronto agents he knew. We then went on to discuss a publisher to avoid and a big publisher to approach. After a few more minutes of discussing some fine points of sales, Sue said, “Thanks! But…who are you guys?”   

“Just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Here’s a card, read my writing and publishing blog…” (Okay, I didn’t say the first part.) Sue’s going to be a success. She already has all the elements she needs in place and her publisher and agent will love her. As is required more than ever these days, she’s already done the heavy lifting for them. All she has to do now is concentrate on getting to be a known entity. (I also pushed her to get Christina Katz’s book Get Known Before the Book Deal to that end. Yes, I confess I’ve flogged that book already on this blog several times. Why haven’t you gone and bought it yet, hm?) Besides writing My Camino, Sue is already a speaker and filmmaker. She’s on her way. Come to think of it, one more thing about Sue and her book…   

My Official Sue Kenney Plug: Her book is My Camino.

Agents! What’s not to love? Snap her up while she’s still available!

Go to www.suekenney.ca


THIS AFTERNOON: Part II and the ever-popular Top 10 LIST!

Filed under: agents, Books, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, , , ,

Author Websites

I’m not much on preamble, but I’m really excited to share some really helpful stuff in tomorrow’s blog. We’re talking about the book business, yes, but we’re really working on improving the project that is you (and me!)

Tomorrow I’ve got a couple of stories for you about networking. The word has a bad spammy vibe. That’s unfortunate because the traits of an excellent networker serve anyone who wants to promote their book, their business and simply connect with people to enrich their lives. Good networkers are good at life. I’m going to introduce you to a guy who is excellent at connecting at people—a master, in fact. That’s the preview. Don’t sleep. Stay giddy. Tomorrow’s blog could really help you. It’s helping me.

Tonight I want to take a moment to discuss author websites. To get there, I’m going to tell you what a smart buddy of mine said a few years ago. We were talking about investments. I was worried about what to invest in. His reply was, “It’s less important what you invest in. It is essential that you invest.” Don’t suffer from paralysis by analysis.

I thought about that lesson earlier this year when I was talking to an aspiring author. I told her how I was working on this website. She said she knew it was important for her to establish a web presence and get a fan base going. However, she hadn’t started and it seemed she had no plans. What was holding her back? She was concerned that editors and agents would look at her site and find it lacking. Her theory was that they might like her manuscript, but if they didn’t care for her website, the deal would be sunk.

She was waiting for…actually, I’m not sure what she was waiting for. I guess she was waiting for the time to be right, or for the energy to be higher or to develop a ton of content that was perfect. Unfortunately, if you want a book deal some day, the best time to start your website would be years ago at the Internet’s inception. Second best time? Now.

 There is no right time, the energy will never be high unless you concentrate on the task and realize perfection is an illusion. Strive for excellence. Reject perfection. Universal acceptance of all you write isn’t any more realistic than is expecting every editor and agent to clamor for your manuscript.

The only time to avoid working on your web presence is when it’s cutting into your writing time. Do not sacrifice your writing time for your website. That’s the caveat. Otherwise, ditch the excuses and start up. Start small if you like and you can choose to update weekly instead of daily. You can choose to upgrade later. Just begin. As with your manuscript, something is better than nothing.

It’s less important what you do. It’s more important that you do.


Tomorrow, in Part I of the networking story, I’ll also introduce you to an awesome author I met at Word on the Street in Toronto. Her name is Sue Kenney. You can check out her website at www.suekenney.ca. And yes, her website is great!

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, web reviews, Writers, , , ,

Book Recommendation: 179 Ways to Save a Novel

179-ways-to-save-a-novel If you’ve got a manuscript that’s not selling, or are building one to sell, you need this.

Filed under: book reviews, writing tips, , ,

Cool Word of the Day






 Something artificial that replaces something genuine. 

eg Ersatz conservative Stephen Colbert makes me laugh, but I’d rather be interviewed for my book by the genuine liberal, Jon Stewart.  

(Jon would give me a hug. Stephen would make me pee my pants.) 

Filed under: Cool Word of the Day, ,

10 Things that Happen When You Win a Writing Contest

You get the letter or the phone call. You’ve won a short story contest!

What happens next?

1. Dance.

2. Call your spouse. “I knew you could!” they say. “This makes all those times I watched the kids while you wrote…almost worth it! Dinner’s on you tonight, Snoogums!” Get your freak on.

3. Call your non-literary friends. “Congratulations!” they say. Then, “I have to get back to work. I don’t hang around a home office, alone all day celebrating like some people I know.”

4. Call your literary friends. “Congratulations!” they say, through gritted teeth. Make encouraging sounds. Assure them they could have won in your place, but it’s a subjective business. (True, though you will never, can never, think of these small triumphs as mere luck. To continue as a writer, you must know you deserve it all. Otherwise you’ll come to your senses and start making money doing something more people value, like grouting.)

5. Call your parents. “Congratulations!” they say. “How much money did you win?” For most contests, when you buy the celebration dinner tonight, there goes at least half. (I won $1,000 for a short story once. I blew that on paying taxes. Whoo-hoo.)

6. Go out for a coffee. This is an obvious ploy to tell strangers. They don’t care. Tip the barista well.

7. Wait for the prize and or publication. The prize may come along quickly assuming it’s a legitimate contest. If publication is part of the prize, it will be a long wait.

8. Discover typos or tiny changes you’d love, nay, need to make to avoid immortalizing the coming ridicule. They won’t make the changes. The release you signed but did not read said so in a sub-paragraph. You’ll try to pester someone about it, but the happy people who called to say you won will now no longer return your calls. (This is also when you figure out you gave away more rights to the story than you would have if you weren’t so giddy when they called. Don’t blame yourself. When they called to inform, you were like the zittiest kid at junior prom asked to dance by the prettiest girl.)

9. Before you can tell them you’re pulling it, you shall receive rejections from other contests and magazines for the same story who apparently thought it sucked. (Don’t let the spark of your enthusiasm get drowned out.)

10. (a) Publication and then anonymity as history moves on.

(b) Publication on the net will result in comments (possibly even an awful blog post railing against you as happened after one of my tiny triumphs) from a bunch of bitter losers who can’t believe their genius went unrecognized. Oh, they’ll be mean. They’ll demand the judges quit and express disgust at your existence, you know-nothing poseur!


11. Reminisce about your past triumph, write something else, put something else in the mail and sublimate your rage with a passive-aggressive blog post.

Filed under: What about Chazz?, writing contests, writing tips, , , , ,

Chosen Ones: Three Blog Contests



Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book reviews, publishing, writing contests, writing tips, , , , ,

The Short Story: Find the Right Ending

Freytag's Pyramid, which illustrates dramatic ...

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A novel is a long journey with many plot developments. In short stories, the major change is in character. It’s up to you to make the ending a satisfying, surprising and yet inevitable revelation.

But sometimes we get stuck. The story unfolds, but we aren’t sure how to end it correctly. When you get stuck for a last paragraph, I suggest you look to your first paragraph. Your ending’s seed often grows from the opening.

The right opening is intriguing, informative, gives a sense of place and introduces the problem. You may think of your closing as a callback (as comedians label a bit, perhaps a finisher, that recalls an earlier premise.) After the last word, ask yourself how your reader will interpret the story. How did the character change? What was learned (without being too obvious or moralistic)?

Short stories shouldn’t be too obvious in their endings, of course, but you have to find a balance between showing a situation and telling your reader what to think. Too often, in an effort to be subtle, writers veer off into the obscure. Sometimes people write arty endings. Some teachers  even seem to encourage that. I don’t.

As a writer, a mysterious ending makes me think the short story author is trying to distract me from their muddled thinking. I am not distracted by flowery words that say nothing. I’m irritated by that. As a readers, unclear conclusions feel like camouflage for a place where the writer stopped the story rather than ending it.

Opaque writing is unsatisfying. You can be subtle without leaving the reader stunned into incomprehension. Good short stories, with a proper beginning, have a clear ending. Give it an interesting middle and you have a story.

Tall orders, I know. But that’s what it takes. I’m struggling with a short story ending now. However, I’m confident the solution to that tricky last paragraph will be found in the first.

Filed under: My fiction, short stories, writing tips, , , , , ,

Word on the Street Toronto

The Word on the Street

Image by mgerskup via Flickr


I spent a good chunk of yesterday at Toronto’s Word of the Street books and magazine fair. The event is huge. I remembered it when it was a much smaller festival. Now they take over all of Queen’s Park and close the streets. I met some old friends and made some new ones. Word on the Street takes place across Canada in various cities. If you can go, I recommend it. 

I know I loaded you up with links last week. As a result of my day trip to Word on the Street, here are just a few more: 

The Horror Writers Association is the only organization dedicated to the support of authors of dark literature. Check it out at www.horror.org

Details about Bloody Words, the Canadian Mystery Conference, can be found at www.bloodywords.com

For information on the Crime Writers of Canada, go to www.crimewriterscanada.com. Members include authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers and literary agents as well as developing writers. 

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is a non-profit organization supported by Canadian Journalists and advocates of free expression. They defend the rights of journalists around the world. www.cjfe.org 

PEN Canada also advocates for writers in prison, writers in exile and works to promote freedom of expression. www.pencanada.ca 


Filed under: banning books, Books, Media, publishing, writing tips, , , , , ,

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.

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

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