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

Write and publish with love and fury.

The Movie of Your Book

People are still reading books, so don’t freak out. Humans are still voracious for good stories. However, that doesn’t mean they want to read words on paper or pixellated pages. We have a lot of competition for our inky offerings. Who has time to read a book when Netflix, Facebook videos and YouTube offer so many diversions to suck up our potential reading time? It makes sense that we leverage that video competition instead of merely combatting or denying it.

Sell more books by selling the movie of the book, too.

You’ve written a book or maybe a bunch of books. Meanwhile, Netflix and Amazon are doubling their offerings of original programming. They need stories. Maybe they need your stories. If you’re beating your brains out trying to make money on online bookstores alone, it’s time to think about expanding your repertoire to screenwriting.

If you’re interested in doing this, get a program to format your script correctly. Scrivener can do it. Final Draft is the industry standard. Final Draft will cost you about $250. Celtx is a free script program (with some paid upgrades for a small fee.) None of the above are terrible.

Amazon made the free StoryWriter App to make the formatting task easier, but it has one other little feature that is intriguing. In addition to saving your work anywhere you want, Storywriter includes a button to submit your screenplay directly to Amazon Studios. Yes, Amazon is serious about competing with Netflix by making it easy to send them scripts. Their desperate search for more original programming and the next big hit means another barrier to the gatekeepers has fallen.

This is not to say that getting a movie made is at all easy. It’s a complex endeavour. Odds are against your grand success, just like with anything creative. But we aren’t writers because it’s easy money. We’re writers because we have stories to tell and we want to reach a wide audience. Video means a wide audience.

Of all my books, I have two series that would best lend themselves to film adaptation, the Hit Man Series and Ghosts and Demons. One is a crime thriller and the other’s quite Buffy. Both would be fun to write so I’m fitting scripts into my publishing schedule this year. 

If you dig this, be sure to subscribe to the Scriptnotes podcast. On Scriptnotes, two working screenwriters educate, explode myths and comment about the art and business writing movies.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Nothing’s easy. I’m saying it’s possible. Maybe it’s for you.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute and I write suspense, mostly about the apocalypse. Check out all my happy diversions from your doom at AllThatChazz.com.

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Filed under: All That Chazz, Amazon, author platform, movies, My fiction, publishing, , , , , , ,

#SF COVER CAGE MATCH: Which is better?

Both these designs for the Robot Planet are by Kit Foster of Kit Foster Design.

Which cover grabs you? Which design entices you to buy? Please let me know which you think is more effective in the comments. Thanks!

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Novel Novella Experiments & a #FREE book

Metal Immortal (Small)

I’ve published three long SF novellas in the last few months. Metal Immortal is free today, so click that beautiful Kit Foster Design cover to get on board for some kick ass military SF reminiscent of War of the Worlds.

It’s a robot uprising that’s pulpy fun. Before Asimov made robots three laws nice, this is what robot mayhem looked like: the Next Intelligence taking over the world, subterranean subs and giant Zilla Class city-killers lumbering across the landscape. Lt. Avery is a Sand Shark pilot on a recon mission in the desert. Things go wrong quickly and get worse. 

What’s different is the experiment: four novellas build one big novel.

I love novellas for their lack of fat. This is action, action, action with nary a break. You’ll love Deborah Avery for her competence and jokes, but characterization comes through action. It’s still hefty enough at 30,000+ words, but it will go so fast, you’ll think it’s shorter.

You can read each of the three novella as stand-alones. The stories are interconnected, true. However, all the threads come together in Book 4 of the Robot Planet Series. The characters that survive the robo-apocalypse  join forces for the final epic battle in book 4: Metal Forever (coming in December.)

As usual, nothing’s usual. Big surprises and fun ahead. Please click the pic to join the adventure and, if you dig it, I’d really appreciate it if you left a review.  Thanks!

Talk soon,

Chazz

Filed under: ebooks, free ebooks, My fiction, new books, publishing, Science Fiction, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The power of the pulse giveaway: 99 cents or nothing?

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)

When I did my Bookbub promotion of This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition, my dentist said, “You’re giving it away? Really?”

“Yup.”

“Okay.” He chuckled at me. He also didn’t know what I know.

That giveaway boosted my author rank and sales after the promotion was over. Most important to me was getting more reviews on that property. I got more reviews, thank Thor. The giveaway met my goals. If I had stuck to one genre (horror/fantasy) I would have seen more profits, too. However, I write across genres so that’s on me. My crime novel readers are not typically my horror and fantasy readers. Though there’s a little cross-pollination, readers are often fiercely interested in only one genre, no matter how much action and fun they’d find in Hollywood Jesus (my favorite of the Hit Man Series.)

"Perhaps the most underrated crime novel of all time." ~ Robert Chazz Chute

“Perhaps the most underrated crime novel of all time.” ~ Robert Chazz Chute

 

This week I’ve put just about everything except the Plague of Days series up for sale (just 99 cents!) on Amazon. That sale will end soon, but in the meantime, my strategy seems to have worked. But perhaps not as you or I expected. 

Here’s the thing:

You never know which book will crash hardest or fly highest until you put it out there.

Murders+Among+Dead+Trees+1121-1

I happen to think Murders Among Dead Trees might be my best book. However, it’s a collection of short stories. Collections are notoriously difficult to sell. The collection features several award winners yet it still only has four reviews on Amazon. My Cyber Week Sale hasn’t moved more than one or two copies of Murders Among Dead Trees.

A few more people bought Self-help for Stoners this week, but the sales numbers don’t bowl me over. Self-help for Stoners is a fun and quirky little short story collection that sells a little at a time, but steadily, and the paperback sells more than the ebook, especially this time of year. (You’re thinking it sells because of Christmas. I think it sells because there’s a great story about how to get away with murder using a skunk.)

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

“You will laugh your ass off!” ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

 

A cursory glance might make you think that big free works and little 99 cent pulse sales don’t work.

That’s not what I get from this sales experiment. My sales of This Plague of Days (which stayed at their old price) went up.

99 cent pulse sales can boost visibility, but readers still have their favorite things to read and This Plague of Days outsells everything else I’ve done. I promoted everything else but buyers still gravitated to what are already my most popular books even though they weren’t on sale! 

Price matters less to some buyers. For those who are price sensitive, they still have the opportunity to pick up some great books for 99 cents. I have no regrets. The occasional pulse sale can move books…just not necessarily the books we think they will move. I’m also happy to give readers a break on price this time of year. Without cheap ebooks, a lot of people don’t feel they can afford to read more books. Believe me, I understand. This is a tough time of year for a lot of us and I’m glad to help stretch a dollar’s value.

My conclusions:

Write more books to get more shots at the readers’ sweet spot. Write more books to figure out what readers want most from you. (Authors can be terrible judges of what readers want unless we have empirical evidence, like sales numbers.)

To get more out of pulse sales, consider promoting them more than I did. I relied on my G+, Twitter and Facebook networks for my Cyberweek giveaway. Bookbub and several other sites promote 99 cent books as well as free books. I didn’t plan ahead with paid advertising, but I didn’t want to spend money on the giveaway if I could avoid it at this time. (Holding back might have been a mistake.)

Many authors prefer the 99 cent buyer to free seekers. That tiny commitment may tend to attract more committed readers instead of hoarders who may never get around to reading the books they download. (And why not? Supermarket chains have figured out that a mere quarter is enough to reduce the drastic loss of very expensive shopping carts.)

If you’re trying to make a living from your writing, write more books like the ones that are already successful for you. That’s why my next book is The Haunting Lessons, now available for a short time for free on Wattpad. It has some commonalities with This Plague of Days, but is more upbeat, faster and funny. I’ll put the whole book up on Wattpad, but I’ll take it down when it’s published on Amazon, closer to Christmas 2014.

Until then, you can read The Haunting Lessons for free by clicking the cover below. Enjoy it now because its time on Wattpad is running out.

Have a look at the beginning of my new series, free on Wattpad.

Have a look at the beginning of my new series, free on Wattpad.

What’s your experience with free versus 99 cent sales?

~ Please check out my author site at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, My fiction, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#NaNoWriMo: How to make writing a novel easier than it looks

I write drafts for my novels at a rate of 1,000 words per hour. I can string more of those hours together if I plan ahead with a general outline, but I usually pants it rather than plot it. 

I think of my writing time in terms of word count and hours. Here’s why:

When I wrote This Plague of Days, I didn’t think in terms of hours then. I didn’t budget my time or work to a word count like it was a job. I just put my head down and wrote and revised many times, stealing time here and there without a real schedule. I can’t tell you how long it took to write that epic saga because I went through so many revisions. Also, because my approach was haphazard, I wrote slower then. Though I worked from an outline, the project took longer than it could have.

I was buying into the meme that slow cooker writing was the only way, despite Stephen King’s suggestion that three months ought to do it (and look at the size of his books!) If I wrote that series now, the first draft would take about 300 hours of actual writing time. That’s less impressive than saying it took me years to write TPOD, but it’s more accurate.

(By the way, I just found out the This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition has advanced to the second round in the Writer’s Digest Self-published Ebook Awards! Yay!)

When someone says it took them two years to write their first novel, that’s not true.

Two years equals 17,531.62 hours, including time spent sleeping, showering, goofing off, playing with children and pets and holding down a job, and procrastinating etc. Authors can write as fast or as slow as they’d like and each process is unique. However, there is no direct correlation between speed of production and quality. In fact, for the first draft, quality is nigh irrelevant.

Quality comes with subsequent drafts.

I find most of the jokes in the second revision and the plot problems to be fixed become clearer by the third revision.

Take NaNoWriMo, for example…

I’m planning 55,000 words for my current WIP. That means 55 hours for the first draft this month. As my current schedule allows, I’ll be done well before the NaNoWriMo deadline as long as I continue to protect my writing time.

Fifty-five hours sounds much less intimidating and more realistic, doesn’t it? What’s one work week to you? Forty-four hours? I approach my writing like a job. It’s a job I love, but there’s no waiting around for inspiration to come to me. I hunt inspiration down. Inspiration and efficiencies are habits learned by writing more and doing so consistently.

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry.

For my crime novel, Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes, I’d planned on looking for the exit to the book around 50,000 words and topping out at 55,000 words. It took me an extra 17,000 words to wrap it up neatly at 67,000 words. Still, 67 hours to a first draft sounds like much less drama than saying it took me a month. That’s just 16.7 hours per week to come up with a first draft. (For a while in the ’90s, that’s about as much time as I committed to watching television.)

I’d give you a measurement of editing and revision times if I had them, but that varies too widely depending on the book. For instance, I’m putting my time travel novel on hold because I’m not happy enough with it yet to release it. I’ll come back to it in 2015. However, I expect to have my current WIP out in time for Christmas (assuming I still love it when I’m done.) 

Write as slow as you want to or as fast as you can. It doesn’t have to be a job. Hobbies are good, too, so write at the pace you choose.

My point is, we don’t have to be drama kings and queens about the writing process. When you hear of writers putting out a lot of books fast, that’s not really quite as hard as many would lead you to believe. Writing is a time management issue first. The other skills required come into play after we commit to investing the hours.

But it can’t be good because it was written too fast!

Writers who cherish writing slowly have my utmost respect until they insist others write at their pace (and many people write much faster than I do.)

On the Road, Casino Royale, The Gambler, A Clockwork Orange, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and As I Lay Dying were written in less than six weeks. I wonder if any of those famous books were actually written in less time than that if the authors had tracked their hours.

Fast writers manage fear because they think about each book project in terms of a formula:

Word count goals + hours x perspiration (divided by distraction)

Prolific writers manage their time, that’s all. No drama. Inspiration usually arrives at the keyboard at about the same time we do.

Write. Revise. Edit. Enjoy throughout. (Now don’t tell anyone how easy it is to get to big word counts or they might start to think that writers aren’t special snowflakes!)

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute and I just published my 15th book. Imagine how many more I could have written if I hadn’t been sucked into the vortex of “Must See TV” back in the day. 

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Top Ten: I wasn’t going to do #NaNoWriMo but…

I’ve published three books in the last month.

HJ COVER FINAL LADY IN RED

PLAYBOOK COVER FINAL

IVBT FINAL 2D cover

 

I’m revising an ambitious time travel novel that I want to get done in time for Christmas. I already write a couple thousand words a day minimum and edit plenty. Every month is Nano for me, so why National Novel Writing Month?

1. I’m always excited about the next project and I have a new book I was going to work on that is going to gain a lot of visibility. Slowing the process is putting off success for later.

2. I was going to write this new book anyway, but doing it in conjunction with NaNoWriMo will help me speed my timetable.

3. I’ve published fifteen books in three years, so the back catalogue is solid, but I want to reach out to new readers with the next project. When this new one hits, all my work will get more attention.

4. I need to take Ex Parte Press in a new direction. At first I thought the new idea wasn’t for me. Then I realized that, just as happened with This Plague of Days and Intense Violence, Bizarre ThemesI could do something unique with a familiar genre.
This Plague of Days S3 (2)

5. I have another huge book waiting to be edited. I’m proud of it and it’s going to be strong, but it’s also a stand alone book, more literary and packed with Shakespeare. It has to wait while I do something with wider appeal that is the basis for a series. (Don’t sniff. Literary is just another genre and I love it all.)

6. This new book is an urban paranormal fantasy with a realistic context. It’s still my style of creepy and scary (with jokes), but I want to finally write a story with a female protagonist. My books definitely aren’t for dudes only, but it’s time for a book from me that resonates even more with female readers.

7. As I write this post, all my Internet friends are challenging each other to do writing sprints and get in on the fun of NaNoWriMo. November is the one month of the year when a writer can feel part of a large community of fellow toilers. It doesn’t have to be such a lonesome pursuit.

8. Competition and fun fuels forward motion. I want to harness that power.

9. Spurred to write now instead of wait, I started this morning. My word count on the first draft of the new project is 3,812 words. I just reread it. They are good words. I’ll keep most of them.

10. Most of those people who claim to take years to write a book are counting procrastination time. NaNoWriMo blasts through that mental block and propels us forward so we write now right now. We free ourselves of the perils of the inner hypercritic and finally get the story out. We can perfect it later. Free your mind and commit to the risk of NaNoWriMo. It’s writing, just as it ever was, but this time it’s with friends cheering us on through the process. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Filed under: My fiction, NanNoWriMo, , , , , , , ,

How to twist a psychological thriller into something new and different

If you’ve read This Plague of Days, you know I go for unique takes on familiar genres. This is how I cut new grooves in an old record and made new word music.

IVBT FINAL 2D cover

 

1. There are no new ideas, but I have novel ideas that play with reader expectations. Always do the unexpected (usually within the confines of the genre, but certainly not always.)

2. Make it meta, commit and have fun with it.

3. Break the fourth wall and talk to the reader. Sure, Italo Calvino did it plenty. Why not you? (But not so much there is no story.)

4. Focus the psychological in psychological thriller on the protagonist. Done right, the reader will share in the pain and therapy.

5. Be the main character (yes, you!) and put ’em through the Poisoned Corridor of Shame and Rusty Carrot Scrapers. 

6. Sift in some weird facts readers won’t think are true (but are.) Realistic context makes fiction feel like non-fiction. Cover your tracks and always let them wonder a bit what and how much to believe. Being a writer is a fine thing. Be a magician, too.

7. Give regular readers some Easter eggs with crossovers from other books. (New readers won’t notice, but the regulars will love it.)

8. Make the confrontations with self and others real and honest. There is underlying truth that’s bigger than mere facts.

9. Stir in plenty of action to push readers along.

10. Add pop culture references, nostalgia and funny dialogue to pull readers along. Make room for jokes. Be different enough to be memorable, but not so different readers hate you. Stay weird, but not for the sake of weirdness. For the sake of the readers who dig doing the daring.

BONUS

Add a secret link and password at the end of the book so readers can find out more about what’s true and what isn’t. Slake their thirst, but don’t tell them everything, either. You don’t want to dispel too much magic in case there’s a sequel.

This is what I did. I called it Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes, The Autobiographical Crime Novel. I hope you like it.

 

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The Revolutionary Writer’s Manifesto: Ride that moose!

There is a myth a few really believe. It is the Myth of Originality.

Let’s pop a bubble. There are no new stories. I’ve seen a few stabs at a truly new story, of course. Those experiments are often bloody awful and unrelatable adventures amongst amoebas dwelling in the rings of Saturn. Screw amoebas.

Plots round the same bases all the time:

1. Good versus Evil.

2. Boy gets Girl (and variations thereof).

That’s okay. When a reader complains a story is unoriginal, they probably really mean that it is derivative. Unoriginal and derivative are two different things. It’s derivative if it overshoots homage, feels too much like something familiar while falling short of plagiarism. No story fails on unoriginality alone or all movies of the last few years would be failures.

What readers want is originality in execution, a unique voice and an uncommon angle or viewpoint. You’ll either give it to them or you won’t, but don’t be a weathervane, spun by the whim of the latest review.

This Plague of Days, my apocalyptic saga, has been criticized because it started out in one plausible place and ended in another, rather magical place. That place is not derivative. It is merely unexpected and I make no apologies. I confess, I’m a little flummoxed by folks who find zombies plausible but roll their eyes when vampires show up.

Anyway, why should I apologize? The reasons given why a few don’t like my story choices are the same reasons the majority love it. If, amongst the action, we take a chapter to deal with the origins of good and evil in the universe, that’s my choice. The metaphysics chapter is my favorite…well…that and the many chapters where a horde of the infected attack Wilmington, Vermont.

Write for you, the writer.

If it doesn’t sell, that one was always just for you. At least you’ll be happyish with it. If you write for the crowd you imagine, you’ll often write for no one. Some people manage it well. They make a good living writing similar books and plumb expected veins. If that’s you, you do you and I won’t complain if you’ll let me do my thing, too. In fact, congratulations and good for you!

For instance, I don’t read Dan Brown, but millions do and they love his work. I bet he achieved that by writing for himself. Yes. Let’s not be cynical. He’s not writing by committee and poll and he’s entertained millions. Consider JK Rowling, too. Harry Potter started a copycat industry, but what she was doing wasn’t popular when she began. She wasn’t chasing a market. She was chasing her dreams despite being told by so-called experts that children’s literature would never give her a big payday.

Follow your vision. As we say in the snowbound depths of Canada ten or so months of the year, “Break trail. Ride that moose!”

The Feedback Tightrope

I’m not advocating that anyone operate in an echo chamber. I do get feedback from beta readers and I’ve altered choices because of that valued feedback.

However, some people seem to think they should have more input into those choices. “I wouldn’t have written it that way.” To which I say, “Go write your book. I wasn’t trying to read your mind through a time machine when I wrote mine.”

The Statute of Limitations

I’m not going to give you solid numbers on what or when anyone can use a recognizable device again. There is no number. All I ask is reasonableness.

If This Plague of Days feels too much like The Stand to you, my reply is:

1. Thank you for the compliment! I love The Stand and it’s a big favorite among Stephen King fans. I’m not copying it but I recognize the similar elements, sure. I regret nothing.

2. “Similar elements” does not equal derivative. My characters are unique. It’s a different story in the same genre, that’s all.

3. The Stand was published in 1978. If not now, when am I allowed to write This Plague of Days or any other book that has any commonality with any other book you’ve read? Keep in mind that I’m almost fifty and not as fit as I should be. I can’t wait forever.

About Unconventional Choices

1. My crime novels are written in second person. Recently I read some twit announce that no book written in second person could have literary merit. Ev-er. “Too much you, you, you,” I guess. And yet, first person is all “I, I, I…” Somehow, we manage to soldier on with our lives and no link has yet been found between second person POV and killer tornadoes.

2. Bright Lights, Big City was published in 1984 to great acclaim in second person POV. Another author, (me, for instance) will get permission to use that POV again…when? From the curmudgeons? We’ll never get permission, so I’m not asking.

I need no one’s permission and neither does any writer.

That felt daring and liberating, didn’t it? But really, what’s the point of being in charge of what you publish if you can’t steer the ship where you want to go? Nobody gets into publishing for their health or to be safe. If you want safe, get into an industry that’s too big to fail: guns, drugs, banking, sugar, corn syrup or manufacturing lies for politicians.

The danger

I know this sounds dangerously close to the “I’m not here to make friends,” defense. (That’s what mean people on TV pseudo-reality shows always say. That and, “I’m not a dick, I’m just brutally honest.”)

Not every reader will agree that you should ignore them and simply follow your instincts when you write. They’ll punish you by not buying your next book. But really, is your autonomy and vision for sale for a couple of measly bucks? Is that the whorish vision of yourself you really want to embody? I doubt it. Besides, you’ll flourish when you write what you love. Follow your love and you’ll write more books. Only hacks write what they hate.

I’m not looking for 10,000 true fans by trying to be what they want.

That’s a moving target, and fickle. I’ll be me. Surely, somewhere out there, there are 10,000 people who are enough like me that they’ll dig what I’m doing. Right? Right? Oh, dear gawd! (Shoulda gotten into running guns and drugs for lying politicians!)

Doesn’t matter. I only know my mind. I’ll write for that audience and hope you appreciate my flavor. It’s okay if you don’t, by the way. No one is drafted into my army. I only take volunteers and my people do not clutch pearls or get the vapors easily. We’re here to escape the status quo, take the world and bend it to our will. Or fail. But we’re not here to be pushed around.

If I’m wrong, I’ll be wrong but happyish.

~ With the loss of a treasured friend, I had a tough week last week. It’s not really getting easier. One thing that has provided some solace is the number of people who have wished me peace here and on Facebook and Twitter. In my grief, I wrote. So many readers responded with kindness. I appreciate it so much. Thank you again. 

Filed under: author platform, My fiction, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

How I lost a job over the end of the world (and how I tried to fix it)

Episode 2 of This Plague of Days launches today!

Contagious diseases that threaten to end civilization as we know it have already affected me personally. (You know, besides the Not Wanting to Die Part. We all share that.)

I wrote the bulk of my horror serial, This Plague of Days, two years ago. I was definitely inspired by The Stand. However, the scariest book I’ve ever read is The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (and it’s non-fiction, by the way). That plays a large part in my story’s inception. The Hot Zone became much more personal when its warnings  became real to a family member. My sister-in-law has a very important job in a Toronto hospital. SARS hit Toronto hard and she was in the middle of the crisis in 2003.  

A coronavirus that may cause SARS. (transwikie...

A coronavirus that may cause SARS. (transwikied from en.wikipedia.org) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SARS made a huge impression on me. Helplessness came first.

Vancouver could have been hit as badly as Toronto. However, one astute nurse averted a worse disaster. She identified the symptoms of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome immediately. She spotted a patient in an ER waiting room and isolated the infected person to avoid an outbreak. You’d hope that best case scenario would happen every time. Toronto wasn’t so lucky.

My sister-in-law and many healthcare workers were in danger. However, they did the job they signed up for and did so bravely. As a result, several of those killed by SARS were health care workers.

Though I’d never worked in a hospital, I was in danger, too.  

Through my research, I knew the agency I worked for planned to facilitate the government’s plan to make me and my colleagues in hospitals in the event of an outbreak. The bureaucrats, without consulting the membership they said they served, were ready to give me up, volunteer me and put me and my family in harm’s way. With two young children at home, they weren’t merely ready to put me in danger. Their emergency plans put my kids in danger. (I’d have to go home sometime after being exposed to contagious diseases against my will.)

Those same bureaucrats plan to hide in their homes during an outbreak while sending me and my colleagues into the thick of it. This is especially egregious when you grok this: Where I live, doctors and nurses refused to pledge that they would report for work during a pandemic. The medical experts understand that when the world flu pandemic arrives, isolation from contagion is the surest way to save the most lives. Staying home is the best chance to avoid an ugly death in an overcrowded hospital. 

You could say I was annoyed by these policies. One bureaucrat in charge of emergency planning told me “This is the government. They can do what they want.” (I thought the point of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was…oh. Never mind. We live there now.)

And yet the doctors’ and nurses’ unions found a spine, maintained their dignity and refused to sign the government’s proposed pledge because (1) their membership at least got consulted, and (2) many felt the government’s plan was stupid at best. 

When humans are in charge, they make mistakes. Some mistakes are deadly.

A chest x-ray showing increased opacity in bot...

A chest x-ray showing increased opacity in both lungs, indicative of pneumonia, in a patient with SARS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Were you aware that with budget cuts in many hospitals, the first to be sacrificed are the people who cost the least money? Expensive upper management is rarely cut, but the cleaning staff has to go first? Those are the people who disinfect the elevator buttons and clean computer keyboards. SARS can survive (and wait for you) a long time on an elevator button.

You know those powerful toilets you’ll find in any hospital? They can aerosolize disease really well when flushed. There’s a factoid to keep you up nights.

During SARS, hospital cafeterias were closed. That sounds like a good idea until you realize medical staff have to eat, too. Nurses ate close together in cramped nursing stations.

Respiratory masks are hot and uncomfortable.

For relief, you drink more coffee. It’s not just to deal with the stress and exhaustion. It’s to get a break from the mask. Worse? A properly fitted hospital mask that’s tested and certified will protect you from many pathogens for maybe 20 minutes to half an hour. When it gets wet, and it does simply with respiration, it doesn’t protect you from possible contagion anymore. You read that right. To screw up most masks, all you have to do is breathe. We don’t all get HAZMAT suits.

I had to go to an ER at the height of the SARS crisis for a health issue.

The medical staff all wore masks and took proper preventive measures. However, when they gathered in a tight huddle to consult each other, they  pulled their masks aside.

How the truth set me free (of a job)

With all this in mind, I attended a meeting with representatives of that governmental agency I alluded to. They told us we’d be safe with any old mask at all. However, a carpenter’s mask keeps out sawdust, not viruses. A hospital-safe mask is fitted individually and tested with noxious smoke. If you cough during the test, the mask doesn’t fit and has to be refitted. (Bonus points for shortsighted and stupid: This test costs money, so it’s often skimped on or not done at all.)

At the meeting, I stood up and objected to the cavalier policy on masks. I thought I was a helpful and worried hero of the people. Nope! I’d become a problem. Problems are things to get rid of.

The next Monday morning my supervisor called to “discuss my contract.” They told me I’d challenged them in a public meeting. (I challenged them, but the meeting was in no way public.) They said I sounded angry. Um, yeah. With me and my family’s health on the line? I was angry. But there’s a difference between righteous indignation and ranting. I thought I hit the right balance. They didn’t agree. (And not for nothing, the highest ranking officer on the phone sounded more angry than I was. I have the tape.)

They said I was free to hold my opinions, but I couldn’t work for them at the same time and express the truth. They didn’t want to risk any “dual messages” getting out.

They questioned my integrity, but I’d done my job well so I guess they couldn’t fire me. They said if I wanted to continue, closer monitoring would be necessary. (I have no idea what that means, but collars make me itch.) I believe it’s simpler than that. They didn’t like me when I wasn’t nodding my head. I wasn’t happy with them anymore, either. I resigned because I thought that was what integrity looked like.

Now I wonder if they took that as some kind of admission of guilt. Then I get angry again. As far as I know, the government’s emergency preparedness plan has not changed an iota. The danger, and loss of personal choice, is no less real.

When you can’t find your opponent’s brain, stab for the heart.

So I wrote a book about the plague that’s coming to kill us. I write about how society reacts to the threat and how civilizations fail. Then 28 Days Later types of zombies show up. Interesting Latin phrases appear for the word nerds and serious lovers of literature get some existential contemplation between zombie attacks. There’s something for everybody.

In Episode 2 of This Plague of Days, released today, I include a chapter that shows exactly how bureaucrats like my former employers could kill someone like me with the same bad decisions. Will the bureaucrats read my demonstration of the worst-case scenario? I don’t know, but I’m sure they’ll keep an open mind. (I crack myself up.) However, maybe an emotional demonstration will resonate more than a defiant lecture. At least those potentially affected by these policies might get and spread the message so next time I won’t be standing up alone.

If you still think it’s a crazy, paranoid and unlikely scenario, have a look at today’s links to real-life events on MERS in “Related Articles” below. Also consider that epidemiologists are clear: we’re long overdue for another terrible disease outbreak.

Read This Plague of Days. And please, wash your hands frequently.

This Plague of Days, Episode One (99 cents)

This Plague of Days, Episode Two (99 cents)

or

just grab

This Plague of Days, Season One

for $3.99.

Filed under: author platform, Books, My fiction, What about Chazz?, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why your interviews don’t work and how to fix the problem

See on Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

A fun yet uncomfortable author interview: The Questions with Robert Chazz Chute: Writer on dSavannah Rambles

Robert Chazz Chute‘s insight:

Most author interviews don’t get read. If they are read, they are lightly scanned. Too often, the same questions are asked and worse, the same answers squeak out to an audience that does not care. There are people who care about where you get your ideas or how you started writing. Those people are your mom (maybe) and the fans who are already into your books. No conversions for you!

Regular Interviews Don’t Create New Readers

Regular interviews bore old readers. They convert no one. Some author interviews make me wish they’d preserved the mystery and shut up. Mostly, I just delete, ignore and move on to see if the Internet has any playful cat videos (like you). Author interviews as they are generally practiced are lousy promotional tools. If you’re going to bother with an arduoous guest blog tour for your book, break the old paradigm.

The Solution is Umbilical Lint

Writers should avoid cliches, so enough about (slurp) how much coffee we drink. Tell us about the Hunter S Thompson acid trip you took in Juarez at spring break. Tell us about your hilarious colonoscopy (I did on the All That Chazz podcast). Share news. News is new. Be entertaining and don’t go for the standard questions and useless answers.

This week, in my post “Author Armand Rosamilia Hates Canada” we got a lot of hits, retweets and comments. People had a good time with Armand’s fun answers to my silly questions about his secret life as a belly button lint sculptor. We made people laugh and intrigued them. Getting read, whether it’s in your books or for your book tour, starts with getting people interested. Don’t lead with “How long have you been writing?” Who cares? Those sorts of questions are for authors who are already on the NYT bestseller list. (And even them, yech.)

Don’t be Afraid to be Bizarre…or Honest

In my latest interview with dSavannah (at the link below) I give honest answers and some of them are funny but uncomfortable. Some answers involve time travel to save my childhood and career. I give an honest answer that involves my mother’s death. (I didn’t kill her. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Be honest, informative, helpful, make jokes and use more imagination. You do that when you’re writing your books. Do that when you talk about your work, too. Just don’t be so earnest! To sell art, be more artful.

If You Want Nice Fans with a Sense of Humor, Be One of Them

Another example? Listen in to my giggly interview with cool Jessica McHugh at CoolPeoplePodcast.com. You might hate me but you’ll fall in love with her and you’ll want to check out her books. Our books are extensions of our personalities. Have one. That gives a reader hope they’ll like your books.

Read Armand Rosmilia’s audacious Fatty Arbuckle reference in his post here. Armand looks like a death metal biker dude, acts like a teddy bear and is a fun guy. We got such great feedback on “Author Armand Rosamilia Hates Canada”, he told me that in his next interview he plans to bomb Alaska. I think that’s something we can all get behind.

Entertainment is the first step to engagement. Are you not entertained?

If not, the author interview failed.

See on dsavannah.com

Filed under: author platform, author Q&A, authors, My fiction, publishing, , , , , , ,

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.

Write to live

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

I interview the people you need to get to know.

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