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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Beat the World’s Plot Against You

Life happens. It’s time for me to happen to life, not the other way around.

In the last few days, someone stole from my family and made my daughter cry. A close friend’s child died. Frustrations dot the landscape. I thought I’d be done another book by now but life keeps getting in the way. Clearly, it’s time for a pattern break.

“Rise up and take the power back.” ~ Muse from The Resistance

I am not a flake, but I speak it fluently. Once upon a time, someone told me to pick up every penny (back when Canada had pennies.) The act of picking up pennies in the street was supposed to be a message to the universe: “I am open to abundance!”

After picking up a filthy penny in the rain, it occurred to me the message I was sending the universe was, “I’ll take whatever crumbs you choose to send me.” Worse, I was sending myself a message: “This is all you’re worth.” Screw that hippie bullshit.

1. Everybody feels pushed around sometimes. Push back by doing a kindness to someone else. Transmute the energy into something positive.

2. Tonight I spotted an author’s comment on a troll’s review, thanking them for the mean review. Authors: Cherish your fans. Set trolls to ignore. You do not have to pretend to love the whip. Stop being grateful for crap. I didn’t think the author was classy and above it all for petting and encouraging the troll. It looked more like grovelling for a penny covered in dog crap.

3. Exercise. Don’t feel like taking out frustrations on weights and ellipticals? Find your jam. Dance. Make love. Make sex. Rock on. Get happy. When we act happy, we fool our bodies and brains. No? Not yet? Dance harder.

4. Get enough sleep. Black out your room. Sleep naked. Fewer blankets are better. Can’t sleep? Revisit #3, points 5 & 6.

5. Phone a friend. Complain, but not for longer than three minutes. Then ask about them. Get out of your own head. Help them solve their problem.

6. You don’t need advice. Hardly anybody does. Just give yourself the same advice you’d give a friend in the same predicament.

7. Write. Not your book. Not yet. Write what you will do (not to do. Will do.)

Choose the two top priorities. Everything else on a long list won’t get done. Mark what time you will do these things. Keep that appointment.

8. Write. Make it the first thing you do. If not that, write at your high energy time.

9. Eat something that’s good for Future You. Don’t eat what Now You wants. Now You wants a hot fudge sundae on acid. Future You wishes you’d eaten a salad.

10. Do it all again until your are out of the unproductive funk. Then keep doing it. Write on. Write harder. Can’t make happy art? Fine. Fierce art is awesome, too.

Or do what you want. This is what I’m doing.

Damn it.

One day soon, we’ll all be brilliant together….

Filed under: getting it done, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TOP TEN: What you were waiting for…THE THONG OF COURAGE!

Ten Rules About Everyone:

1. We’re all scared. The ones who say they aren’t haven’t experienced loss yet or they’re afraid of appearing weak. It’s okay to be afraid. Fear can be wise, but not so useful it should take over your life. Feel that fear and wear The Thong of Courage!, anyway.

2. We’re all frightened of being wrong or looking stupid. Worse, some graceless people are hoping to catch us making one wrong move. Worse still, at some point, we will all be caught. 

What do we do next?

We snap The Thong of Courage! to remind us we are not defined by our mistakes if we learn from them. Forward! Down the Catwalk of Begin Again! Work it!

3. Everyone thinks they’re right all the time. Statistically impossible. Never happens. However, no matter what you do, someone is sure you’re wrong because you didn’t do it their way.

That’s okay. They think their subjective opinion cancels out yours. Maybe it would have yesterday, but today? Today you’re wearing The Thong of Courage! Behold, The Power of Thong!

4. We are all dependent on each other. Our stories are often about the one person who makes all the difference that saves the world. That’s almost always false.*

*Notable exception: a Russian officer defied military command protocol when the computers in his bunker told him US ICBMs were on the way. While his peers demanded a decision, he remained calm and thought it through. He averted global thermonuclear war by ignoring all the warnings on his screen. He determined that the attack was a computer malfunction and, of course, he was right. There was no “of course” about it at the time, though. We came so incredibly close to not being here and most people don’t even know it happened. His name is Petrov and that day he was wearing two Thongs of Courage!

5. We all envy people without knowing their struggles.

An author who is incredibly fortunate and gifted discovered that someone who had been a friend would not attend the launch party for her book. The friend was envious. What the friend did not understand was, even with all those blessings, nothing comes easy. It’s all work. There is no one clear path forward.

One person’s success takes nothing from another’s potential. When we slip The Thong of Courage! up our thighs and give a little wiggle, we feel inspired, not thwarted, by what others have achieved.

6. We are all humans. That means weakness. That means strength. To be human is a special thing, but too often we fall in with tribalism and blind nationalism. We choose teams and sides and brands. We see other people as The Other and distrust too easily.

“When we only seek enemies, we only find enemies.” That quote is from Superman in a Justice League of America cartoon I watched when I was eight. Often true, too. Superman is so thonged up, his underwear looks too thick to be a thong.

7. When we operate from fear, we often make bad decisions. (Bad news considering Items #1 and #2, eh?)

We’re scared we’ll get screwed over by Kindle Unlimited. We’re afraid of what Amazon might do someday, like change the royalty to two pennies. However, there’s not enough data yet in the first case and we’re worrying over a hypothetical in the latter.

But Thongers? We unite in the Now of the Isness of This Moment. Feel the raw psychosexual power of The Thong of Courage!

8. Worries about hypotheticals will still sneak under the Thong sometimes. What if we don’t have enough money to pay the bills if we get sick? Will we have enough money to get an education to get a good job? What if the roof leaks? There are infinite negative hypotheticals. 

Projecting negative possibilities into the future isn’t as useful as it once was. If you’re reading this on a computer (as opposed to psychically), you probably aren’t in a survival situation where you have to figure out how to cure meat in case the crops fail.

What might be more useful is to use our imaginations to attack problems and be proactive about the future. Instead of getting stuck in paranoia, try pronoia. (That’s the state of suspecting the world could be a positive place and not everything is terrible and out to stab you in the eye with an icicle.) Pronoia is the magic stuff The Thong of Courage! is made of.

9. We are all more alike than we’d like to think. 

I met a macho guy from another culture. He spoke in familiar, aggressive rhythms. He was forceful, but a nice guy. If I heard that same tone in another language, I might suspect he wasn’t a nice guy. However, as I listened to him in English conversation, I wanted to laugh at my foolish preconceptions. The guy only sounded angry. He was pontificating about pop culture to his friends.

As writers, our tool is imagination. When we aren’t writing, many of us use our imaginations as a weapon against ourselves. We fuel worry and create stress and that tears at the fabric of the Thong of Courage! True Thongers depend on evidence, not irrational, fearful maybes. We can use our imaginations for good. Start with pronoia. (#8)

10. We all seek validation. Too much, I think. We hope readers recognize our brilliance. We want Someone Else We Respect (and may not even know) to give us the nod and let us into the Successful People Club. There is no club. Worse, luck is more involved than we’d like to think in success. Worse still, if it existed, membership in that club would often be temporary.

Most of us won’t get such public validation. The outliers — those few, stellar successes — will be chosen for acknowledgement, adoration and jealousy, yes. Mid-list authors who do reasonably well will toil on, keeping the size of their checks secret. They’ll shut up about making $40 ~ $60,000 a year in part because it’s more than most get but also because it’s not as much as they’d hoped and they’re embarrassed by arbitrary expectations. Someone won’t approve. Always, someone won’t approve.

Most of us will fail by the usual monetary measures and chances are excellent Mom and Dad will lose sleep over the lawyer you could have been.

So don’t write for validation. Seeking other’s approval is not The Way of the Thong! Don’t wait for your parents to give your writing career their blessing. Stop expecting everyone to understand your obsessions. Do the work. Write. Write for the joy of creating and what comes will come. Or it won’t. Doesn’t matter. You’re a writer in an awesome thong, for God’s sake!

We talk about writer’s block too much. Write through the fear to create joy in yourself and possibly in others. It’s supposed to be fun for you and the reader, you know? It’s not really all that hard, either.

You know who really needs The Thong of Courage!? Roofers in the hot sun and sweaty ditch diggers and worried caregivers and people with real problems who don’t have the joy of being writers. We are so lucky to do what we do. When we understand that, we won’t even need The Thong of Courage! anymore. We’ll go commando, naked and unafraid.

You are the answer you’ve been waiting for.

Do it.

~ My name is Robert Chazz Chute. I write stuff. Pantsless.

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)

 

 

Filed under: getting it done, What about Chazz?, What about you?, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing: The Pregnant Pause and Slacking to Win

One thing about being an indie author that nobody ever seems to say is, relax and stop running from time to time.

Sometimes, the Internet seems like it’s all about motion. We push books and try to pull people in. We follow endlessly and sometimes joylessly. It should be fun to meet new people and find out about what’s new and cool. But everybody needs a break, if it’s at the right time.

I’ve found the right time.

You haven’t seen me lately, unless you checked out my review of Transcendence at AllThatChazz.com or my article on food and emotion at DecisionToChange.com. After doing a major promotion for my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, I felt it was time to step back. I’m still busy, but sometimes it makes a lot of sense to get out of your followers faces for a bit. Give your tribe some time off from The Magic That is You.

Spend more time reading and writing.

(I’m reading LT Vargus’ Casting Shadows Everywhere at the moment. Go get it. It’s the kind of demented joy I love.)

I’m working on new books and revising old books, too. This Plague of Days Season 3 launches in June along with The Complete This Plague of Days. I had to get my taxes done (blech!). A collaboration with another author is on the horizon and, between promotions and events and blog tours, I’ll be boosting my marketing and visibility plenty this summer. I don’t want to wear out my welcome by peaking too soon.

The problem is overwork and overexposure. 

There’s a podcast I loved to listen to that I’m now a little sick of. I might love it again, but if I have to hear the same stuff from the same guys too often…well, maybe it’s me. I needed to take a break from them. The relentless self-promotion machines of the Internet? Geez, guys, shut up and take a breath.

I mean, really, don’t you get sick of me banging on and on about writing and publishing sometimes? I would, and I love me (except when I hate me.) 

It’s not just about giving readers and listeners a break, either.

You need a break sometimes. I know you’re all out there crushing it a la Gary Vaynerchuk and perfecting your marketing simplicity through Seth Godin’s genius and…well, slamming your head against the wall. Marketing should be a creative and joyful thing. It certainly can be fun if you are doing the right things and going into it with the right attitude.

The right attitude is excitement.

(Here’s a guy who knows how to enjoy the marketing process and make it fun for others. Help Armand Rosamilia name his new podcast here.) BONUS hint: Many authors complain about marketing. They’d have more fun if they weren’t so whiny about the necessities of business and, instead, look for opportunities to help others and make publicity and marketing into an interactive game with and for readers. But that’s a post for another time. Tonight, we dance.

Take it easy on yourself and others.

If you push the accelerator through the floor all the time, your car’s engine will blow up. Don’t burn out your engine.

Push too hard too often and you’ll end up pushing people away. Instead, try discovering and promoting others, or be still and listen. Let your mind be that cabin in the woods, free of distractions so you can hear the peaceful hum of the Om of the world and the anguished screams of your tormented enemies burning out, flailing and failing.

How do I know when it’s time to take a break?

When my patience wears thin.

When I catch myself getting cynical.

When every interaction with a kid I made feels like an interruption.

When I’m too tired to do anything else.

When I’m too tired to do anything. 

The rewards of slacking to win are:

Rejuvenation, physical and mental. 

New excitement upon your return.

Fresh ideas.

Balance and peace.

Excitement for the tasks ahead instead of weariness.

Writing is my retreat and my solace.

I write every day. But it’s a great relief to you and to me not to talk about it at recess ad nauseum. This week (if it suits you and the timing’s right and if you’re feeling cranky at the world anyway) let’s talk less about writing and, instead, write more.

~ Full disclosure: Between writing sessions I do post excerpts of upcoming books on Facebook or just share goofy news and interesting memes. I love interacting with readers there and I find it relaxing. Hit me up with a friend request there. We’ll be cool together. Bring margaritas.

 

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, book marketing, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing: How to get it done

1. Write what you’ll finish and publish soonest, first. Propulsion increases closer to payoff.

2. Don’t tinker forever. Set a deadline. Stick to it, on penalty of noogies.

3. If you’re a slow writer, outline first so you’ll stay on track. Stop at a place where you know what happens next. You’ll start tomorrow without pausing, stopping or getting stumped.

4. Think of how great it’s going to be once you’ve published. Alert your readers to your progress so they know when to expect the next book launch. You’ll keep your momentum going with a little positive pressure. There are numerous free word count bars you can put on your author site to display your daily progress. That which is measured, improves. That which is not, is rued.

5. Give your graphic designer enough warning so when you’re ready with the manuscript, he’s ready with the cover. You’ll deliver rather than stretch it out past the deadline you set.

6. Give editors, proofreaders and beta readers a deadline so the manuscript gets read, checked and back to you in a timely manner. Write an editorial and production schedule down but put it up where you can see it.

7. Write to a word count or write to a page count or write to a timer. Write. The hardest part is to start. If the story is any good, you won’t want to stop.

8. Don’t wait for inspiration. Go find it by sitting down to write. (My bills, narcissism and terror are all the inspiration I need. What motivates you? Use that.)

9. Don’t count procrastination, marketing, or Internet distractions as writing time. The earlier in the day you get your writing done, the more you’ll get done because your greatest resistance is at the beginning. Start early and you’ll write longer and more.

10. Sleep, exercise and eat well so you don’t rob from your writing time by having to take a nap (due to a gluttonous, glutenous binge.) Naps can be great and rejuvenating, if they’re short and scheduled. (If you’re sleeping to retreat to a safe place, stop reading your bad reviews.)

BONUS:

If you aren’t lost in fun as you write, something’s probably wrong.

Spice it up and twist that plot like you’re wringing out a wet towel.

No one willingly gives time. Take it. Have a schedule and control it.

Write.

Filed under: getting it done, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top Ten: Some things no one tells you about writing

1. Nobody cares about your book at first, even if you think they should. Even if you think they care about you, they’re indifferent. It’s maddening. For you, each book is a magical dream made real. For them, “Nice hobby, but so what?” 

2. Since typing looks a lot like writing to the casual observer, you don’t get extra respect for being a writer from a lot of people. Anybody can type, so don’t think you’re special. “Who do you think you are, anyway? You think you’re better than me?” Oh, they won’t really say that. That’s silly. But some may as well say that by the way they’ll treat you.

3. A lot of people can read, but don’t. They care even less than the casual observers in Items #1 and #2. I don’t understand these people. Why live? It’s a mystery.

4. Some people do read, but they’re jealous of those who write. Read any one-star review that seethes with the venom usually reserved for a pedophile’s first night in prison or a family reunion. Yeah. Those people.

5. You and your family will make sacrifices for Art. Your kids’ friends will be able to afford nice vacations, cool stuff and the latest technology. Your kids won’t get that stuff, though they will get an in-house example of someone daring to follow their dream and buck conventional expectations. At least cover the basics somehow: food, shelter, clothing and good minds.

6. To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, pursuing the arts is a great way to disappoint your parents. Don’t expect them to understand. That’s presumptuous and unfair to them since they (probably) love you. It’s not that they don’t want you to succeed as a writer. They want you to take that accounting job because they don’t want to see you suffer. They don’t understand that the safe job they want you to take will hurt you in ways that last, too.

7. The first book that consumes your energy and attention which you poured your heart into? Odds are, first attempts aren’t that great. But no matter how many books you write and no matter how big you get, someone will say you can’t write. In fact, the bigger you are, the more negative messages you’ll get. (If so, congratulations! You’re reaching a wider audience.) That cost-benefit analysis works in your favor, but at some point you might still consider antidepressants, booze or illegal substances or too many brownies. Avoid self-medicating. Write more instead.

8. Sometimes betrayal arrives from unexpected sources within your circle of friends or family. This will hurt most and saps your creative energies. These incidents often lead to divorce or more heated arguments at family reunions. The alternative is you’ll quit and hate yourself because you are no longer being you. Anyone who forces you to choose between them and your passion is gangrenous. Amputate.

Another thing I learned just today:

If you’re being a dick, that doesn’t mean I’m thin-skinned.

9. Writing is harder than it looks, especially before you start. It’s more fun than it looks after you start. Begin.

10. Somehow, at least some readers will find you. You probably won’t even know what you did right, exactly. But there will be readers and even fans. Super-uber-robo fans that so get you, so love your work? Well…you’ll wish those negative friends and family understood you as well as these strangers. Don’t sweat it. You’re making new friends through your fiction.

Treasure your readers. Love them. Inspire them. Nurture them. Entertain. Make them laugh and cry and hit them with love and surprises. 

When you succeed, make sure everyone who tried to put you down on your way up finds out. You’ll care less about how they hurt you by then, of course, but not so little that your vengeance won’t be delicious.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write about funny hit men, autistic teens and humans versus zombies versus vampires. But mostly I write about the caprice of vengeful gods. I create gods in my own image.

Filed under: getting it done, publishing, Rant, readers, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to crack writer’s block. No whining. No excuses.

There are many distractions between your bed and your writing desk. Some suggestions to discipline the monkey mind:

1. Well, write in bed then! (Pee bottle or diapers optional.)

2. Work on a computer without Internet access. Unplug the modem or get your pet rat to chew on the wires if necessary.

3. Get your spouse to activate the parental controls (so they have the code). Congratulations! Your distracting porn addiction just vanished. 

4. Commit to scheduling writing time just as you would a doctor’s appointment, the gym or any other important job. You know your writing is important work, too, right?

5. Make your commitments public. Failure yields public humiliation. Success gets you a reward. Make a bet with a writing buddy or do writing sprints in social media. Report your progress, or lack of it, so you’ll do better tomorrow.

6. Defend your writing time. Wield dual ice axes, if necessary. A sign on that door you close marking your designated writing time makes a clear stand. Your writing retreat does not have to be an expensive, remote cabin in the Rockies. It’s as nearby as the word, “No.”

7. Get out of the house and write elsewhere: Starbucks, the library or at your day job. (Write on your lunch hour if the boss keeps close tabs on you.)

8. Wear headphones and use the Brainwave apps that help you focus. Or pump nothing into your headphones. Or be like Stephen King and rock out to Grand Funk Railroad as you compose. Use WriteRoom. Whatever works for you.

9. Unplug and go write the first draft by hand. Some writers feel the words come easier when they’re connecting brain to arm to hand to pen to paper.

10. Work with your biorhythms, but find your sweet spot when your focus is best: late at night or early morning often allows you to work without interruption.

11. Got a writing group? Shape it so you can make it do double duty: make it a day care club. When my kids were little, playdates (and their nap time) were opportunities to get work done. Communal babysitting gets the kids entertaining each other and allows the writing to continue when you organize and rotate the playdates from house to house.

12. Protect your brain. This goes beyond time management. For instance, when you notice you need a nap after eating bread, take the hint. Maybe it’s the gluten making you sleepy. Thanks to a helpful reader, I’m trying a couple of products from Onnit.com and I do feel and think better lately. Exercise doesn’t just get blood to your body’s muscles. Better blood supply revs up brain muscle, too. Since dumping processed foods, losing weight and upping exercise, I’m sharper. The walls are alive, I see into souls and I write harder and longer.

13. Just start. You’re full of resistance and distractions and excuses at first, but once you begin, the words and worlds will begin to flow. Set a timer and tell yourself you’ll write for ten minutes. What? You can’t take ten minutes? Sure you can. Don’t be a weak whiner! Take ten minutes. By the time the timer goes off, you won’t want to stop.

14. Write in short, energetic bursts. Like going to the gym, many people feel they can’t do anything worthwhile unless they have big blocks of time to commit to their projects. For many of us who don’t have that luxury (and hardly anyone has that luxury) we’re actually sabotaging ourselves with that attitude. Consistency works better than bingeing in the long-term.

15. Take a course, go to a conference or read a book to energize yourself and get excited about writing again. We moan too much about writing and forget how fun it is until we’re back to doing it. If you aren’t having fun writing, you must be doing it wrong.

BONUS

Most important, remember why you’re doing this. Hold on to the Why so you’ll overcome obstacles to the How. You are not merely a consumer. You’re a productive writer, pursuing your dreams and telling stories for fun and profit. Don’t put your dreams aside only so others can achieve their goals. You’re important, too.

Filed under: getting it done, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

63 Strategies and Solutions to Your Life Problems That Won’t Help (and one that might)

We’re currently inundated with new year’s resolution memes and people are already asking, “Have you broken your resolution yet?”

Jeez! How weak are we? Are we the same species who fled comfy, lice-ridden cities to cross oceans in rickety, wooden boats without valet service to chop down trees and to make room for the I-95? Um…I might have skipped over hundreds of years of slavery, a few assassinations and some other historical events in that brief summary, but you get my point. Be stronger, with the dumb, pioneer spirit and distressing testicular fortitude of your ancestors.

The solutions to broken resolutions are pretty much the same every year.

Here are varieties of bad solutions you might recognize:

1. Tech solutions: Get a Fitbit to lose that weight because that which is not measured doesn’t get changed. Write it all down. (Good start! Keep going!) When you stop writing it down, you’ll look up to find yourself, inexplicably and magically, transported to the pizza parlour. Blink again and you’re in the ice cream parlour. Weird. (Bad end.)

2. Psychological: Love yourself more, because, I mean, like…wow. Think how you’ll look in that hot, red tube top, sir! (Corollary: How about I love me more the way I am right now and eat an entire ham smothered in chocolate and soft serve ice cream? I’ll wear that same tube top, but as a headband.)

3. Political: Let’s form another committee about that. We can get your proposal on the agenda two weeks after the sun explodes, on a Tuesday afternoon, at about the time we table it forever, for the drifting in space holiday.

4. Demented political: Pull yourself up by your bootstraps you moochers and takers! (Even though pulling oneself up by the bootstraps was originally meant ironically since it’s a physical impossibility which, if possible, would deny gravity and allow us all to float.)

5. Philosophical: Why? Why? Why? Why didn’t I choose a major that led to employment?

6. Social work: Don’t ask why, dummy! Ask, Why not?

7. Evangelical: Jesus, by all depictions, was a really chiselled jock. And He wouldn’t eat an ice cream cone. (But how many carbs are in manna?)

8. Journalistic (1960 to 1990): Let me tell you about the obesity epidemic (good) and the glory of low-fat diets that were tried for decades and failed miserably (stupid).

9. Journalistic (1990 – present): Let me scare you to death over the latest food fad while we watch this stooge for the sugar industry debate a squirrel on water skis. (All stupid.)

10. Dream Journaling: I’ll watch The Secret again and again and if I wish really hard and we all clap our hands, Tinkerbell will live and I’ll hate myself a fraction less.

11. Personal trainer logic: You weren’t born with a thin person’s metabolism like me, therefore you’re a lazy slob.

12. Coaching a la The Biggest Loser: I will respect you as a human being, but only after you lose the weight. You losers disgust me! What? You thought “Loser” in the title was ironic?

13. Drama coach: Show us what your new life will look like through the magic of interpretive dance!

14. Medical: I’ll tell you to lose the weight. What? How do you do it? Nobody really knows for sure…but go do that.

15. Systemic solutions: The status quo is All. Go back to sleep. You will be assimilated.

16. Obligatory Stoner cliché: Don’t rock the boat man, cuz nothing changes and The Man is keeping us down. The plaid pattern on this couch is, like, deep, man.

17. Optimistic: We can rise above the status quo. We never have personally, but darn it we will! Just because, that’s why!

18. Pessimistic: If we change for the better, I’ll have to get a whole new personality. That sounds like a lot of work.

19. Educational: Study all the theories about how to change. Write another thesis. We’ll reach a conclusion when you’re quarter past dead, which, to be fair, is much faster than #3.

20. Capitalistic: Irrelevant. Who has money anymore?

21. Socialistic: I can change as soon as I get everyone else on board and get approved through a consensus of a vast number of people who don’t understand my problems. 

22. Tyrannical: Do as I say! Oh, crap, I’m shot.

23. Vegan Yogic: I’m already perfect in every way. The enlightened need not change. And you? Still eating food with a face?

24. Nike Vulcan Logic: I do not understand why you do not just do it, you moronic human.

25. Captain Kirk Logic: Screw the Prime Directive again! No consequences! But first, hey, green girl! Do you come to this space bar often?

26. Dr. Who Logic: We’ll fix your current circumstance by going back in time, except that will just make more timestreams and, you being you, I suspect you’ll still be miserable. Worse, at some point my lovely, adoring assistant will age, get married off to some half-wit who isn’t me or be murdered by an alien.

27. Fatalistic: Nothing changes. Why bother? Though…yeah, I would like to get out of my parents’ basement before I’m 40. But that could never work. No one’s ever succeeded at changing anything ever.

28. Pollyanna: Don’t change. You’re beautiful. I’m beautiful. Everything is beautiful. Just keep those red and green pills coming or for the love of god lobotomize me!

29. Good Will Hunting: It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

30. Irish Mom: It’s your fault. And your father’s.

31. Man Logic: When I look in the mirror, I look pretty good to me.

32. Woman Logic: When he looks in the mirror, he has no &%$@!! idea what I put up with.

33. Internet Logic: Buy this white paper for just $24.95 and you’ll be thin, rich, famous and dating a Kardashian by Tuesday night! (Bonus offer: The surprising secret to whiter teeth and upward mobility through animal husbandry!)

34. Great Santini Dad logic: I’m very disappointed in you. Do you even know how much those cello lessons cost? And where is that cello now? You’re no Yo-Yo Ma. Just a yo-yo, huh? More pushups will fix you, you big baby! You’ll thank me after I’m dead!

35. Mom logic: Have some more substitute love casserole and pay no attention to what your father says. I mean, look at him. Gawd!

36. Bureaucrat logic: I’d be interested in your problem, but my retirement is only, like, thirty years away so fill out these forms…

37. Cop logic: Everybody’s guilty and, as we all know, jail fixes everything so…

38. Surgeon’s logic: If cutting won’t solve your problem, you don’t have a problem.

39. Comedian logic: But if I fix my life, what will I do for an act?

40. Swiss logic: What is wrong with you people? Just stay out of it.

41. Whiner logic: I would change but it’s so hard. I didn’t think it would be this hard. Let me tell you about it over a huge dessert coffee, which I deserve because I must celebrate each tiny triumph or self-medicate my ego for every minuscule setback.

42. Toxic Logic: I knew you’d fail and I can’t tell you how joyous it is to be here to quantify my I told you so in excruciating detail with a heavy dollop of condescension.

43. YouTube Commenter: You suck and this is a colossal waste of time, which was just made more colossal because I’m taking the time to make a hateful comment here. (And, by the way, I’m a raging bigot with no life who hates everyone and everything but me.)

44. Amazon reviewer: Good job! Four stars for a solid effort.

45. Goodreads reviewer: Good job! Three stars for a solid effort.

46. Grammar Nazi: Everything would be great and this post would be funnier if not for the 150 mistakes, both real and imagined.

47. Actual Nazi: I feel zee term “Grammar Nazi” devalues my life’s vork. My life’s terrible, terrible vork.

48. Self-help industry: I can definitely help you change your life. First walk across these coals at my seminar in Fiji, buy all the books which pretty much say the same thing, join the cult and accept the idea that encouraging words + semantics = “new, revolutionary mind technology”.

49. Outsourcing: I can’t get to the gym and take care of the kids and do my job, but there’s this slave in Malaysia. She doesn’t speak English, but she can listen to the kids over the phone while she works out.

50. Life Coach #1: Just say no. It worked when Nancy Reagan told…oh…right.

51. Life Coach #2: Say yes to Life! Cuz when Jim Carrey said yes to everything in Yes Man, he uh…didn’t he help Luis Guzman with a guitar or something?

52. Breaking Bad solutions: “Science, bitch!” And meth. Lots and lots of meth.

53. Chuck Norris: “He doesn’t need a weapon. He is a weapon.” Um…I don’t see how that is a solution to my —” “Because he’s Chuck Norris, that’s why!”

54. SpongeBob Squarepants: Meth, obviously. Lots and lots of meth.

55. Pet cat solutions: When you die because you did not seek to fix your life, I’ll be eating your fat corpse before it’s cold. And don’t think of me as your “pet.” You’ve got it backwards.

56. Glee solutions: Let’s sing about our pain and marry insanely young so we’ll always have lots of pain to sing about.

57. TV exec solutions: We filmed the worst people we could find so your life looks and feels much better, even though we’re paying these awful reality stars more per minute than you make in a year.

58. Podcast solution: We can talk about it. We’ll talk about it again and forget we talked about it before. 

59. Talk therapy solution: Pretty much the same as #58.

60. Dr. Phil Solution: Drawl insulting Texan idioms at you until you promise to change just to shut him up.

61. Oprah Solutions: (This snarky remark deleted because, Jesus, she’s Oprah! She comes off soft and spiritual, but she’s Oprah, for God’s sake! She could have me and all of you killed just for reading this!)

62. Bond movie solution: Cool soundtrack, but don’t model your life after a guy who always gets captured by an impossibly rich, cartoonish villain in a cheap suit.

63. Cher in Moonstruck:

Logical solutions:

Make better choices on an ongoing basis. You probably already know what you need to do. You know you need to make a plan and follow it consistently and not quit when you fail. Because you will fail. But if you put more checks in the “did it” column instead of making longer “to-do” lists, you’ll win in the longterm. Commit.

And finally, especially for writers:

Whatever you commit to doing first will get done. 

If you aren’t writing, start and do that first,

before all the other demands of the day get in the way.

Set the alarm clock for early. See you at the desk.

Filed under: getting it done, Rant, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing and the Day Job: When dreams don’t come true on schedule

Let’s get a myth out of the way immediately.

Some writers say it’s a rule that a day job keeps writers in touch with the real world and, to be good, writers need real world interactions to draw upon for their fiction. Maybe that’s true for them and their process. I had enough drama to draw from before I left home as a teenager. I deal in fiction. Imagination and Google are more useful to me than interactions with actual humans in Meat Space.

Meat Space humans are difficult for me to deal with. I see the world differently and they don’t all get my sense of humor. I’m a little weird and sometimes I have to make myself shut up so all the weirdness doesn’t escape at once and scare people away. In books, it’s easier. I’m supposed to be strange when I write. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you relate to that. When we go corporate, no one’s supposed to suspect our minds are active.

Even when I’m lying, I try to tell the truth.

I lie to myself about a few things, but I’m honest for readers, sometimes painfully so. That’s why I’m unveiling some vulnerability and complexity here. I wrote a post last night about going back to a day job. Fourteen years ago, I was in the same office, doing sort of the same thing. (Long story.) The point is, in the post I wrote to readers, I was emphasizing the positive. It wasn’t a lie when I wrote it. It’s not a lie as I type this.

However, sometimes my enthusiasm for my return to the real world is a lie. Starting up yet another business is creative and exciting and stressful. When my enthusiasm is down and my pride is butt-hurt, there’s a reason for that. It’s called Entitlement. As in “False sense of”. I have that affliction sometimes. I’m not proud of it. In down moments, I do feel bad about needing to return to work.

But I feel worse about the sacrifices my family has had to make to support my dream. There’s tension when the bills come in. We don’t talk about it, but we know. We don’t take vacations like all the kids’ friends do. Every purchase feels like a commitment to a serious investment. How long will this coat last? Is the van’s muffler a ghost yet? The living room rug absolutely must be burned and replaced. As mentioned in my previous post, poverty sucks.

The Revealing Question

I ran into a friend and former client who got the news I was returning to my old workplace. “Are you okay with that?” he asked.

The question was gentle and well-meaning. He knows that, for me, the last two years dedicated to writing have been the best two years of my life. When I’m at the keyboard, I’m home and having fun creating chaos. I’ve used those two years (mostly) wisely. Ah, but the question. “Are you okay with that?” Depending on my mood, it’s loaded with should haves and what ifs and worries about dealing with an unknown public.

If This Plague of Days wasn’t taking off, I’d have a huge problem with my return. It would feel like capitulation and a backwards step. I’d feel like a loser if not for the seeds of success very slowly budding. I’ve also published ten books in two years. My readership is growing. The timing would have been ideal if the growth I see now happened a year or so ago. But having a hit isn’t like that and hits don’t last, either. There are too many variables and they aren’t all under my control. To pay the bills, I have to do what I did two years ago. I’m risking starting another business.

I’m not quitting writing.

To take things to the next level, I need to have more money coming in to support my family and my imprint, Ex Parte Press. The schools seem to request more cash for projects, school trips and class support almost weekly. Bookbub promotions are not cheap. And yeah, that living room rug is a bio-hazard that no carpet cleaner can cure. Back to work I go.

The Good News

The day job isn’t so demanding in the number of hours it takes.

I can write between clients and still be very productive. In many ways, my day job will be an ideal complement. I can control my time and I still work for myself. I’ll have two businesses. That will undoubtedly diminish some book productivity, but I’ll still have more time than most writers so I should not, must not, whine.

It must also be said that in my other, newer business, I’m really good at it. There are much worse things to be doing with my time. It’s noble work that helps people and yes, I am expert. If not for that expertise and writing, I’d be looking on Monster.com for “Hired assassin”. I’ve considered dog-walking, but only if it was 1980 when nobody had to pick up after their dogs.

We do what we must. We move forward. We make what fun we can from whatever we do. That sense of entitlement with which I am sometimes afflicted? It doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t help any of us. I’m earning my readers, one at a time. Though it is deep and dark, we are finding each other in the forest. It’s going to be fine.

~ These are my books. This is the new business. Tonight, as I write this, I feel no chagrin.

Filed under: author platform, authors and money, book marketing, getting it done, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 How to be happy (oddly, this will infuriate people it’s meant to help)

This is probably the sort of topic where, if you get it, you don’t need it. If you don’t see it, you probably never will. (Then why blog about it? Because I don’t see any windmills! Now gimme that lance! Let’s go tilting!)

Change can happen though.

A bureaucracy, that shall remain nameless, gave off a lot of bad hoodoo. They’re infamous for holding the people they serve in contempt. The way they related to people led, in part, to the installation of bulletproof glass in their place of business. (I’m not kidding.)

Recently, they responded to the wails from those who paid their salaries. The video they sent out stopped short of an apology, but they did acknowledge they needed to set a new tone. They promised to work on changing their corporate culture.

I was one of their most strident critics. If they’re sincere, I’m surprised how willing I am to forgive and forget. The changes I see so far are free and subtle. I dealt with them again recently and a few pleases and thank yous was all it took to ease my wariness. It seemed, in the span of a few short paragraphs, that they weren’t trying to make me feel like a dirtbag. Refreshing.

Which brings us to blogging and relating to people.

I’ve found myself skipping past the blog titles that say, “Here are X number of reasons your blog sucks.” Maybe there’s good information in there, but I’m an author with an Irish family on one flank and teenagers closing in on the other. I’ve got enough negativity in my life. I already have a dim view of the world and I enjoy it in fiction. Less so, when someone harangues me.

I attended a webinar that made me sad.

The guy was knowledgeable, but the way he communicates needs to soften. The louder he talked, the less we heard. He then confessed that a big business opportunity fell through because of “conflicting styles and interpersonal stuff.”

I think I know the problem. It was the abrasive guy. “Go-getter” and “jerk” don’t have to be synonymous. The adage is not that you get more flies with corpses.

Which brings us to Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com.

My friend, supporter and sounding board, Kit’s a graphic artist who is a great resource for any publisher. He works with all of us, big and small. But that’s the least of why you should do business with him.

He knew I was feeling down the other day. He took the time to write a kind note that hit me at just the right time. Clearly, if you’re an author or publisher, this is the sort of person with whom you want to work. He does great work and his portfolio is impressive. You’ll get great covers and he’s not done until you’re happy. Work with Kit Foster and you’ll sell more books.

But many people can deliver book covers at a reasonable price, right?

Sure, I guess. But how many will bother to send you an email that makes you feel better when you’re down?

For a lot of people, anytime they see you’re down is when they start kicking.

How can we make more people like Kit?

1. Go back in time and get nicer parents, smoke helpful medicines or be Scottish, I suppose. I’m not sure what makes Kit the way he is.

2. Some medical schools use actors to teach doctors what compassion looks like so they can fake it. I don’t know if that sticks. I’ve often said the only thing I learned from Survivor was that jerks and psychotics can’t fake being nice for a month, even for a million dollars.

3. We can practice random acts of kindness and see if that elevates our mood. Happier people are nicer people. This doesn’t apply to people who get happy for the wrong reasons. If you’re one of those psychos, seek professional help before the rest of us rise up and throttle you.

4. We can practice gratitude (I guess I’m doing that now.) It sounds kind of hippie, but there’s science that shows the more thankful you are for what you already have, the happier you will be.

5. If you can’t manage these suggestions, professional scuba diving limits your ability to damage the rest of us, so take one for the team and go scream at fish. 

6. Use Kit’s services at KitFosterDesign.com. Maybe exposure helps by osmosis.

7. If you’re angry at somebody, make sure you know why you’re really angry.

Here’s how you’ll know you’re angry or sad about something else besides the target of your ire: You should have a range of emotional responses. If you review a book with the same level of vitriol that should be reserved for skinning live puppies? You’re Monty Burns and you have a problem, no matter how catchy the tune you sing about making fur coats.


8. If you’re already happy, spread it like fertilizer. Maybe it will grow. A bookstore employee told me she didn’t aim for happy. She aimed for contentment. Ironically, that suggestion made me happier.

9. Exercise. Meds to treat depression and disorder. Talk therapy. Total gene and personality transplant or personal tragedy that leads to an unlikely transformation. I don’t recommend leaving the problem so long that the solution is that last option.

10. Take Joe Rogan’s suggestion and pretend a documentary film crew is following you around, recording the lost time, outbursts and ill temper. Do that for one day and you might decide it’s time to change all your other days.

When you look up to find you’re surrounded by happy, creative, productive people and you don’t resent them for it?

You’ll know then you’re on the right track.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I am not happy all the time. I am working on improvement. Check out my books and podcasts at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: author platform, getting it done, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Are you in the echo chamber?

I love my writing community here. I’ve learned a lot from others and, as indies, we share a lot of information. We’re a generous bunch with each other. I appreciate your comments and participation on my little writing and publishing blog. Because I’m a sweet bunny pooping love everywhere, I have to tell you something with love:

Writers talk to other writers too much. We must talk to readers more.

Let’s make this go down easy by using an example from another industry.

When massage therapists try to figure out their businesses, they ask their peers and senior massage therapists for their opinions. They want to drink from the well of experience. It’s a good notion that frequently goes awry. Their peers are often as clueless as they are and senior therapists either don’t have the same problems or their advice is out of date. Take pricing, for example. They’ll set fees based on what they’d pay. But many massage therapists would never pay for massage. They don’t have enough money or they swap treatments with other therapists. Massage treatment is for people with real jobs and insurance coverage, not us.

Stick with me and hold my hand, because this is about to get uncomfortable.

Writers need to listen to readers more.

Sadly, writers often don’t have much money to spare so we use libraries or search for free a lot. Most of us buy books when we can, but with budgets as tight as they are, we’re often not your audience. As a result, many of our industry’s book prices are artificially depressed. We’re asking the wrong audience what we should do. (I’ve taken this advice. I just raised prices on some of my books and generally, the trend will be up.)

A veteran writer who’s “made it” (whatever that means) often doesn’t know all the variables that contributed to his or her success. If someone coasted to indie success from a high in traditional publishing, they can’t tell you much about the current scene. Precious few people attribute any of their success to luck. It had to be their sheer brilliance. However, many of us are brilliant and we’re still eating boot soup.

So, what not to do?

If you don’t tweet others at all, you may as well be on Mars.

If you rarely check your direct messages, you’re in the bubble.

If you only check your mentions on Twitter, you’re screaming into the echo chamber.

If you follow three people and two of those are your other Twitter accounts, you’re only hearing yourself plus you’re a raging narcissist (and not in a good way).

If you only have conversations with people who don’t buy books, you’re surveying the wrong people.

If you only speak to people who “buy” free books, you’re engaging the wrong audience. (Readers who buy with money instead of a click are often suspicious if your book is priced too low, for instance.)

If you don’t take new information in and seriously consider change, you’re for slavery. (Your own.)

If you do have conversations with readers from time to time and you talk about them, you’re on a smoother path.

If you don’t cultivate supportive friends, you’ll be alone, surrounded by fiends and without a fire ax or holy water.

If you only attend conventions with other writers instead of fans, you’ll have a great time talking to people who agree with you: “Wow, it sure is hard to connect to new readers!”

If you never get out and talk to real people in the real world and only connect with people on a safe and cyber basis, who will you learn to hate so you can kill them in your next novel?

If somebody says, “I prefer paper books,” and you reflexively say, “How Amish of you! Ebooks are the only future!”, that was kind of funny, but you should be listening instead of cracking that same joke open again. It’s rotten on the inside.

If you say all this social engagement is too hard and it takes away from your writing time, I’m sorry. I thought you were writing to be read. Get a calendar or time management software. At least tweet or email during commercials.

If you immediately dismiss everyone with whom you disagree, you’ll never learn the secret to…well, anything really. Plus, you’ll come across as a jerk.

I’m not suggesting you allow me or readers or reviewers or anyone else to run your life. I am saying that if you recognize yourself in this list and it gives you that squirmy squirts feeling, adapt accordingly. Listen.

You should listen to me. I’m a writer.

Filed under: author platform, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, readers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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