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

Write and publish with love and fury.

The mistake I made with my book cover (and how I fixed it)

Here's the new cover design for my novella. The graphic designer is Kit Foster of kitfosterdesign.com. IF YOU CAN'T SEE THIS IMAGE IN YOUR BROWSER, you can get the new cover image here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/83426

The Dangerous Kind is a top-notch, heart-wrenching novella of suspense (and I don’t just say so myself). Happy with the guts of the story, I put a bad cover on a good book. My reasoning at the time was that I didn’t want to spend money on any book that wasn’t a full-length work. I priced The Dangerous Kind at just 99 cents to introduce my flavor  to new readers. I did not consider that you can’t sell a gorgeous mansion if the front of the house looks condemned.

I created the first cover for my novella using picnik and morguefiles.com. I’m actually happy with some of the short story ebook covers I created, but with The Dangerous Kind? I made a mistake. The original cover makes sense to readers only after they’ve read the story. If I were a freakish hybrid with Bones McCoy after an unfortunate transporter accident, I might say, “Dammit, Jim! I’m a writer, not a graphic designer!” I should have asked for professional help instead of trying to do it on the cheap. I can recognize a good cover, but there’s a big gap between flying the plane and riding in back.

I was shortsighted. Once an ebook is for sale, you get to sell it forever. Why not make the best first impression you can? It will make a better return with a pretty face and you have forever to make back the investment. That’s what a good cover is: an investment, not a cost. My graphic designer is Kit Foster of kitfosterdesign.com (great guy!) so the cost was reasonable, too.

The other good move I made (finally!) was to ask for a cover endorsement from a fellow suspense novelist. I got one from a bestselling author: Jeff Bennington, author of Twisted Vengeance (and more). Jeff read The Dangerous Kind and gave me some nice quotes for the cover. Cover endorsements give readers courage to make that first click to buy our work and get sucked into our worlds.

Thanks Kit and Jeff. I may find new mistakes to make, but I don’t think I’ll be repeating this one moving forward.

Filed under: All That Chazz, authors, Books, ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, self-publishing, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Review, Interview and Podcast News

Many regular readers expect a new podcast from me right about now. Since my throat has closed up and I’m currently absorbing oxygen through my pores, there’s no podcast this evening (though if you missed any, they can all be found at AllThatChazz.com.)

Twisty and twisted. Click the pic for more.

However, I do have sweet and tasty candies for you:

From the NSFW category, erotica author Eden Baylee asks me some piercing Proustian questions and I give some earnest, logical and scatological answers. Not only is it not safe for work, it may not even be safe for your living room. Click here, read there and have a laugh.

Over at The Raven’s Quill, Krista Walsh gives a lovely review of Sex, Death & Mind Control.There are allusions to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. She’s beguiled, so I know my experiments with mind control really are working. See what the fuss is all about and read the review on her site.

Recently, RaeBeth McGee interviewed me at The Writing World. I’m all about the pithy answers about writer’s block, verisimilitude and my enemies will get a clue as to where to search for the hidden secret to my weaknesses! Enjoy in a click.

A new cover is coming for The Dangerous Kind. This time it will be pretty since Kit at KitFosterDesign is pinch hitting for me. It will be more effective because the new cover will include a happy endorsement from a bestselling author.

If you don’t have a Kindle, but still want The Dangerous Kind edition with the vintage cover, you can get it on Smashwords here. I’ve had great reviews of this suspenseful novella. You could be the next happy reader to review this claustrophobic story of greed, betrayal and inner demons in the Maine woods. (Still for just 99 cents! Couch change!)

I shall be podcasting again when my throat is no longer full of razor blades. For now, I think you’ll find these links plenty entertaining. For me? Each of these links taste like affirmation of me as a writer and acknowledgement that I’m a player…excuse me, that should be playah. And all that tastes like chocolate croissant. My thanks to Eden, Krista and RaeBeth! That was fun!

I have major announcements cooking, so stay tuned.

Cool stuff is coming your way.

Related articles

Filed under: All That Chazz, ebooks, My fiction, publishing, reviews, self-publishing, short stories, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , ,

VIDEO: Some Quotes from Self-help for Stoners

More quotes from Self-help for Stoners at Quotations Diary.

Or just jump to Smashwords, Amazon.com or find Robert Chazz Chute wherever the cool ebooks hang out.

If you love paperbacks and only read in paperback and hate ebooks with the burning passion of 1,000 suns, then this is just for you, my Amish friend!

Please and thank you!

Filed under: All That Chazz, authors, DIY, ebooks, publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , ,

One way to find new audiences for your books might be…

What do these things have in common?

1. Learning German from Hogan’s Heroes.

2. My first fight.

3. My other fights.

4. James Bond’s brand of lighter. 

Answer: I talk about these things on my podcast.

I had a surprise last night as I examined my podcast statistics. I’m being found. Listenership is trending up. Even better, I’m being found by people I wouldn’t encounter otherwise.

What is podcasting? It’s radio, on the Internet, usually for free. In a craven ploy to market my books, I named the podcast after one of my books, Self-help for Stoners. When I started the podcast a few months ago, I thought that if I ran out of material, I could always fall back on reading from my fiction. I’m amazed to find that each week I find new things to talk about for a weekly comedy/narrative/sometimes ranty podcast. It’s a lot of fun. It’s harder than blogging, but it’s different from a blog in good ways, too. When I podcast, I’m free to talk about whatever I want so it often ends up going in some weird directions. Surreal, even. Anything goes as long as it interests me and I think it’s fun or funny.

Must you have a voice (and face) for radio? I had a little experience with radio in university, but I don’t have the best radio voice. My delivery can sometimes devolve into such a spasmodic cadence that it’s positively Shatnerian. But it is still fun despite my vocal handicaps. I didn’t think the podcast was taking off and I vacillated between blaming my stammer and my material, among other bits of very personal self-loathing. When I saw the improvement in the stats, I decided I had been too harsh and impatient. (Thing is: I would podcast anyway. I enjoy it that much.)

Why podcast?  I’ve already mentioned it’s a fun creative outlet. Through podcasting I’ve met some really nice people and, more to the marketing point, more people are finding me and my books who otherwise would never have heard of me. What’s really cool is seeing all the places the people are listening from! People listen from all around the world: Madrid, New Jersey, Ireland. I have a pocket of love with 22 downloads in Belgium. A whack of people in Alberta listen to my podcast every week. Somewhere in the streets of Beijing, someone’s got my voice in their ears as they take a bus to work, presumably to learn english (I’m guessing.) By far, the podcast is most popular in the SanFrancisco/Oakland area. Does that play into a stoner stereotype? My podcast may suffer the same problem as my book of the same name: in an effort to get a hook, I might have screwed myself up in the early going with the Self-help for Stoners  title. People sometimes assume my stuff is only for stoners and that’s not at all true. All my books are mostly suspense. In the podcast, I talk about anything I like, tell stories (true and false), read excerpts sometimes, recommend other books and podcasts, and say some really stupid stuff for laughs. Sometimes I come up with something deep…usually by accident.

Is podcasting for you? I listen to podcasts somewhat obsessively. It’s how I get through non-writing tasks like bringing in the wood, doing the dishes  and folding laundry. Having my own show seemed like a natural extension of going indie with books. It’s not expensive to do, though the tech stuff was daunting at first. After some initial one-time expenses and some experimentation with the mic and editing program, the only ongoing cost is that I use a pocast host service (Libsyn) for $20 a month. (I don’t drink so that would have been beer money.) If you decide to go ahead with podcasting, I suggest you save yourself a lot of time and headaches and get Dave Jackson from The School of Podcasting to help you with the set up. I’m reasonably tech savvy, but there were so many little nuances, I eventually decided I’d only ever get it started if I brought in an expert.

How will people find your podcast? People can download my podcast from Stitcher Radio (which streams it to any device), straight from my author site or from iTunes. There are podcast directories and google searches, but mostly, people find my podcast through Twitter. Here on Chazz Writes, I speak mostly about book marketing to fellow indie writers (and that’s great! Thanks for being here. You’re who this blog is for!) AllThatChazz.com is the blog for readers interested in my fiction and who want to hear the podcast. What might have also helped my listenership was that I appeared on six other podcasts recently in some capacity (including reading one of my stories from Self-help on The Word Count Podcast in support of Indies Unite for Joshua. Donate if you can, please. It’s a great cause.)

Last night I published my sixteenth podcast. It’s taken me a while to find my stride. I still stammer, though I edit better than I used to. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be fun, and yes, some of the jokes are just for me.

If I could eliminate one word from the english language, what would it be?

War.

But a close second choice choice? My dumbass, simian vocalization as I try to find the next word:

“…Um….”

~ Robert Chazz Chute has a whack of short stories available on Smashwords and his novella (The Dangerous Kind) and dark collections of suspense (Self-help for Stoners and Sex, Death & Mind Control) are available just about everywhere. He’s such a sweet guy that when he writes about himself in the third person, like right now, he collapses even deeper into a well of self-loathing.

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

The Writing World: Author Interview- Robert Chazz Chute

Via Scoop.itDevolution

This was a big bucket of fun. RaeBeth McGee over at The Writing World interviews me on my weaknesses (carefully hidden), my books (mostly obscure but gaining ground) and the bodies (corporate and otherwise) strewn behind me.

Fun interviews are one of the perks of this job. I love having fun with author interviews. Click the link to The Writing World and have a laugh. ~ Chazz
Via raebethmcgeeswriting.blogspot.com

Filed under: All That Chazz, Author profiles, Books, publishing, Useful writing links, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , ,

Met Kevin Smith at Live From Behind in Toronto! He and Jay have my book!

Kevin Smith

Image via Wikipedia

Last night I shook hands and had a chat with Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob for those not in the cult). Each now have a signed copy of my book, Self-help for Stoners. They couldn’t have been more gracious, interested, warm or friendly. It was a big moment for me, especially when Kevin recognized the book and said, “Hey! I know you!”

Each got a personalized recommendation for stories they might particularly like from Self-help and it was a genuine pleasure all around. We laughed a lot. As always, of course, Kevin spoke inspired and inspiring words about writing and the creative process.

I’m a bit emotional today. It was a milestone in the evolution, not just of the book, but for me taking the leap to writing full-time. It was just over a year ago that I decided I needed to “stop chasing the puck” and quit my job of twenty years. Things went full circle last night. And now? Onward. Three novels are coming out this year with my name on them. Hoo-ha!

I must make this writing thing work.

Bonus? As I walked up onstage, Jay sang Paperback Writer. Yes!

Filed under: All That Chazz, authors, Books, ebooks, My fiction, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

The ebook pricing and gifting experiment

Click here for your free story!

Self-published authors have found success in serialization.

Cross-pollination is the cousin to serialization that no one talks about. 

I have some big promotional events coming up, but January can be the doldrums for sales. Many of us, me included, are sifting through our new reading from Christmas and looking forlornly at our VISA bills. Publishing is so easy now, but obscurity is hard. I thought it was time to do something to spark the imagination of readers. It’s time to build my readership and, I hope, new readers will review my books and spread the word.

That’s why, until the end of January, I’m giving away a very special story for free.

I have ebooks selling at various price points: 99 cents, $1.99 and $2.99 and one in paperback for $13.99. When the big promotional event hits, I expect there will be a run on the paperback and ebook of Self-help for Stoners. The Self-help for Stoners podcast is also going well with over 300 downloads already.

But why free and why now?

Honestly, my sales kind of suck so far and I’m trying to light a fire to signal rescue planes.

My gamble is that once I’m picked up, readers won’t want to stop the ride at just one story.

Book sales need momentum. Fortunately, I had just the right story in my holster to fit this pricing/gifting experiment. The story, Corrective Measures, stands on its own. However, two characters from this story appear in several of my other stories in two other books. I won an award for End of the Line, a short about Dr. Circe Papua. Hounded by an unscrupulous bill collector, she uses magical powers of persuasion to get him off her back. That story appears in Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit). Dr. Papua shows up in different incarnations in several stories in that book, but also appears in Vengeance is #1, an ebook on sale for $1.99.

My main character from Corrective Measures is Jack, a serial killer and Dr. Papua’s patient. He tries not to kill anybody unless Dr. Papua says it’s okay, but after a minor argument over a parking space, Jack wants to murder a woman simply for pissing him off. (By the way, The Parking Lot Incident, happened to me. And no, there are no warrants out for my arrest.)

Here’s where the cross-pollination comes in:

Jack appeared in another award-winning story, The Clawed Bathtub, which is the last story in Sex, Death & Mind Control. I love it when stories nest beside each other. In Corrective Measures, there is a reference to events in The Clawed Bathtub that answers a question that was left a mystery in that story. Read one and you won’t notice the seams. Readers who buy them all will get a bigger picture and enjoy the inside jokes. I didn’t write the stories with this strategy in mind. That arose organically. I only write stories I need to write. However, these characters I know so well keep popping up. In The Fortune Teller, Papua is an old seer at a fair. In another story from Sex, Death & Mind Control (The Express) Dr. Papua is the same psychotherapist from Corrective Measures, but she’s dealing with an older version of Paul, the man who is abusive to women in The Fortune Teller.

You don’t need a flow chart or to keep score. It’s just that as I wrote about these characters, I found they had more to say than could be shoehorned into one story. There’s no timeline to follow. It’s about characters who are so compelling, I had to revisit them and explore them further. Each story explores extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances and makes it funny, suspenseful and scary. I found that as I wrote these stories, I pulled back on the gore because, frankly, the battery acid scenes would shock some readers out of the story. The results are tighter, more clever stories that make you think, make you laugh and make you a little more wary of strangers.

Please accept my invitation to go grab Corrective Measures now while it’s still free.

I hope you will be inspired to spread the happy word to your friends and through reviews.

I’ll let you know how this pricing/gifting experiment works out.

Filed under: All That Chazz, book reviews, DIY, ebooks, getting it done, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, readers, reviews, self-publishing, short stories

Vengeance is released!

In this short story, we meet Georgie, an angry girl with a funny, mean streak. This seventeen-year-old wants to be normal, if only she could figure out what Normal is and how to get there. After enduring a string of therapists, she encounters

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO GET IT

Dr. Circe Papua. Things are looking up for Georgie, at least until Dr. Papua fires her as a patient. Now Georgie is looking for redemption and an apology. Failing that, she’ll settle for vengeance.

Filed under: All That Chazz, ebooks, My fiction, short stories, , , , , ,

A Series is Born: Free ebook and Parting Shots, a new short story

Have you taken advantage of the COUPON CODE at my Goodreads blog yet? Get Asia Unbound for free! The coupon expires Jan 1.

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, but wait there’s more! The new short story, Parting Shots is what happens the morning after the events that occurred in Asia Unbound. The stories are complete and can stand alone, or read both to discover the weave. Parting Shots is available at my Smashwords page.

In Parting Shots, Marcus in the Morning gets into an argument about God and the nature of the universe,

proving that sometimes when you win, you lose.

Poeticule Bay, Maine is a mix of towns I grew up in on the east coast. Think Stephen King minus the fun clown in It and you have the flavor of my childhood. The small-town claustrophobia and dark family dynamics kept showing up in my fiction so much, I had to succumb to the call and admit escape, redemption, sacrifice and the twisted and twisty were recurring themes. There’s no sense fighting the muse. I look forward to writing many books that will take place in my favorite foggy inlet tucked away from the world. Even though it’s tucked away, Poeticule Bay is not immune from the world’s ills. Instead, its small size amplifies the darkness in a microcosm. Check out the books now and you’ll see the evolution behind the suspense series.

The Poeticule Bay stories evolved organically, so some characters recur across the Fictionscape. The novelette, The Dangerous Kind, all takes place in Poeticule Bay. Asia in Asia Unbound was born years ago in my imagination. However, an incarnation of that character, Legs Gabrielle, returns to Poeticule Bay to confront her past in Self-help for Stoners. If you’ve read the short story Context, at the end of Self-help for Stoners, you might have picked up on the clue that the alcoholic cop is Asia’s uncle in Asia Unbound. I’m working on a Poeticule Bay novel that brings back several characters from these stories: Sheriff Rose, Joey and Jason (from The Dangerous Kind). Legs Gabrielle from Self-help for Stoners is the main character in the novel. (More on that later.)

Please check out all the books through the Smashwords link above.

But Chazz! I only read paper books! Sure! Check out the Self-help for Stoners paperback here.

I hope you enjoy them all. Happy Boxing Week!

Filed under: All That Chazz, Books, ebooks, getting it done, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , ,

Self-help for Stoners is now available on Stitcher (plus the Christmas message of hope and gooeyness)

What a week! Self-help for Stoners is now available in paperback. I have a new short story up at Smashwords and tonight I just got an email from Stitcher that my podcast, the companion to the book Self-help for Stoners, is available on their app. Here’s part of the email they just sent me:

Self-help for Stoners is now available on Stitcher! Thank you
so much for joining the Stitcher lineup. We are thrilled to offer the
show on the app! We are really excited that you have joined the platform. Your show
will now be available with one click on mobile phones and iPads all
over the world, SONOS systems, in-car dashboards and more to come!
I hope your audience will enjoy the flexibility and ease of the Stitcher app.
I know many of our Stitcher listeners will enjoy your show as a new
listening option.

Yes, I know it’s a form letter. That knowledge doesn’t detract a bit. I’m thrilled. (The Self-help for Stoners podcast is also available, as usual, at iTunes or straight from my website —which, as of today, is officially all mine— at allthatchazz.com.)

I plan for a busy “holiday” in that there won’t really be one. I have a lot of writing and revising to do to make the novels available faster and who takes a vacation from playing, anyway? I usually feel harried, but I think I’m learning to embrace the chaos. I’m having so much fun that I don’t want to take a break from writing at all. I’ve also learned to take advantage of my manic phases of activity when they strike. Given my Getting-Stuff-Done Mode lately, I imagine it’s like being on Adderall minus that pesky expense. This Christmas, my present to myself is the gift of repairing broken promises I made when I was eight years old. I wanted to publish books. I’m doing it now and staying in the driver’s seat. This wasn’t possible just three or four years ago. Now, for better and worse, I’m in control.

And I’m so grateful. I’m working full-time, working longer hours than I ever have. It feels like I’m in university again and it’s always crunch time. I knew working full-time as a writer and publisher would take up a lot of my time. I didn’t expect it would be this much fun. When my family asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, I told them, “Nothing. I don’t deserve anything.” Oddly, I don’t mean that I’m in Hate-Myself Mode. I mean, every day is already a gift. Cliche. And true.

Whether you buy my books or not, I hope you find value in this blog because it’s a labor of love that gives back to me in so many ways. I learn so much by the research I do for the blog. If not for the blog, I never would have met author Jeff Bennington, for instance. He ended up formatting my paperback and he always has advice that makes me think. If not for this blog, I would have missed out on the talent of Kit Foster, my amazing graphic designer, who, so far, has made three book covers for me. I made friends with Dave Jackson at The School of Podcasting. He helped with starting the podcast and also with the author website. There are so many talented authors I’ve met through Chazz Writes who have been so helpful,  like Lorina Stephens, Rebecca Senese, Roz Morris, Reena Jacobs, Lisa Stull, Eden Baylee and many more.

Take a trip through the archives here and you’ll find many articles on the craft of writing and editing, but also author profiles of intrepid fellow writers who are putting themselves out there. We wave banners and take risks. We reject the rejectionists. We say no to the naysayers. We aren’t looking for followers. We are recruiting revolutionaries to our cause and that cause is free expression. We are all so lucky to live at a time when dissemination of our words, broadcasting our thoughts and publishing our books has never been easier or less censored. The rising voices are a din, yes, but I don’t hear desperation in the new wave of information and entertainment. I hear joy and bravery. I hear greater independence and more choice. You can buy books cheaply and quickly. We can debate how healthy this is for writers. We can worry about the state of traditional publishing and bookstores. Though some people whine about to many books, that’s crazy. More choice means more freedom. Whatever happens next, one group has already won: readers.

There are too many people to name here who have helped me to begin this journey. If you have helped me by example, with advice, with encouragement, with proofing, with editing, with design or financially by buying into my fiction, please know that I appreciate it so very much. If we already know each other, I’ve already thanked you for your part in helping me move forward and I’ll no doubt thank you again! One more concrete way I thank people is by promoting your books and hosting guest posts and retweeting your posts and aggregating the best information I can find for you here and on my Scoopit! page. I’ll continue to do so. I promise.

After putting off this life for a long time, my present has finally arrived. This has got to be the gooiest post I’ve written. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, I’m sorry for all this sugar and syrup (but it springs from a happy place.)

This will be my last blog post until 2012. (Okay, I’ll be checking in, continuing Scoopit! and I might pop in with more good news if I get some.) However, my plan is to disappear into some pages and go on a writing binge and get some more stuff done. The guy who gets stuff done is the new me.

This Christmas, I wish you the gift of happiness. 

If you don’t have it yet, know that you can make it so.

If I can, you can.

Filed under: All That Chazz, getting it done, podcasts, publishing, What about Chazz?, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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