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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Is Give to Get wrong?

Recently I saw a note from a social media guru who decreed that we should definitely not “Give to get.” I’m really not too happy with too many rules. I didn’t go indie so people

English: One of my Ferrets, his name is Cincin

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could handcuff me and tell me what to do. That’s what Valentine’s Day is for!

Have you noticed there are too many rules and they seem to be multiplying like ferrets high on Viagra? Quirky fact I learned today: A group of ferrets is called a “business.” Is that a semantic dig at business? Are we all a bunch of grubby, musky-smelling ferrets for holding ourselves out to the world as worthy of attention? Hm.

But enough ferret talk! What about you? If you give to get, would that be so bad? I don’t think it would be so bad, if it worked. I just don’t think it works, or at least it never works in any way you expect. For instance, this week I supported the IndieGoGo campaign for Joshua Moore, a fundraiser for a young man with leukaemia. Heavy, sad stuff which we all hope will have a happy, inspiring ending. I’m trying to help with that fundraiser because cancer makes me mad. My mom died of lung cancer and she never smoked once. That’s how unfair the universe is. Recently three friends of mine were diagnosed with varying forms of cancer. (When I say “mad” I don’t mean angry. I mean the “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun” sort of insane.) We spend finite resources on the wrong things instead of using it for medical research to save us from the scourge … (very long rant abridged for your protection) …

Then, from the totally trivial department, I started a tiny project on Twitter to try to get one of my favorite comedians, Mike Schmidt from the 40 Year Old Boy podcast, on another of my favorite podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience. Mike’s podcasts provide me with free weekly entertainment and, in a very generous move, he gave me the entire first season of his show for free last Christmas. I have a karma debt to him and I hope to make his random act of kindness pay off for him in a way he couldn’t have expected. Mike mentioned he’d love to be on Joe’s podcast and they already travel in similar circles. It’s amazing it hasn’t happened

Don't argue over parking spots with strangers. Or else.

already. I figured, “Hey! Let’s invite the next step to happen! It would have happened anyway. Let’s get it to happen sooner!”

I don’t really believe in karma because, from what I’ve observed, the universe just isn’t that well organized. However, I did feel instant karma with the first project. It feels good to give and Joshua’s family is in need. It’s a worthy cause and any time you’re feeling down, helping somebody else in any way you can makes you feel better. (Want to feel good, too? Go here.)

As for the second campaign, it’s pretty straight forward: If Joe Rogan and Mike Schmidt get in the same room for a podcast, the entertainment value alone is plenty reward. I love comedy and comedians (though, of course, the latter somewhat less so since many are big trouble up close and personal.) I have nothing to gain by trying to help Mike except more laughs. Show of hands: Who doesn’t think more laughs are worthy of our time? (Okay. You and you? Get out and don’t come back!)

Twisty and twisted. Click the pic for more.

People wringing their hands about the devious and ulterior motives of Give to Get needn’t worry. Giving to Get never really works in my experience. We can construct fancy plans to promote our ends, but there are many paths up the mountain and they are all hidden.

Case study: Once upon a time, I moved a thousand miles to a new city to open a new business. I didn’t know anyone, so I had to step far out of my comfort zone. I volunteered at a veterans’ home. I did free demonstrations and gave lectures. I taught classes and spoke to strangers in elevators. It was disgusting how hard it was on me. I was an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. (“Ahem. Still am,” said a small voice. SHUT UP!) I did a ton of charity work. I was out there with a missionary zeal and I was trying to meet as many people as possible so I could help as many people as possible. Much of it went under appreciated, under the radar and from my accountant’s perspective, was a waste of time and energy. Each morning I woke up very early, worried about where the money was going to come from. (Just like now.)

All that outgoing energy was sort of like Twitter, except back then I had to be annoying in person and some people were actually helped. Well…a few people. Mostly, all my plots and plans didn’t work the way I thought they would. People weren’t charmed. I did not form a swooning cult clamouring for appointments to spend time with The Magic That is Me. For quite some time, I got the feeling that, as a human being, I’m bad at being human. I suck at making new friends. I am, apparently, an acquired taste.

The business didn’t grow because of my plots and plans. The plots and plans travelled with reality, but in parallel. All my manufactured extroversion did nothing for me directly. I really didn’t know what I was doing. The word “flailing” comes to mind. Everything I thought should matter? Didn’t. And yet the business grew. Our plans do not matter. What matters is that we offer ourselves up and make ourselves available so connections we couldn’t have foreseen will emerge. I’m not talking about that Law of Attraction stuff. I’m talking about writing more books and being available so opportunity finds you ready.

Readers discover our work in organic ways not meant for mortals’ puny understanding. You dohave to put yourself out there to be found, yes. Write more books. Tweet. Help

What if God gives you what you want? What if you win an argument against God?

somebody out. Whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re out there in the world—preferably the cyberworld for me—writing anew and doing things and doing your best. The organic growth (call it luck if you like) will happen in ways you can’t now imagine (or at least in ways I can’t imagine because you’re smarter and braver than me. I’m winking at you, brother.)

What worked? In the case of my business from long ago, I met a special person at a lecture. She hired me and I managed to help her. I didn’t know how influential she was at the time. However, once I helped her with her problems, she sent a lot of people my way looking for the same service. Today she’d be my dream book blogger from Publisher’s Weekly who discovers my lowly existence and campaigns to lift me from obscurity’s muck and declare me worthy. Or, it could be something completely different. My point is, all that dreaming of perfect, beneficial synchronicities is pretty much useless. Just show up and something will happen. (Woody Allen once said a high percentage of his success was attributable to just showing up, which of course discounts his genius behind a camera immensely.)

You can give to get if you want, but for all its effectiveness, you may as well give for the sake of giving without counting the cost. I don’t think anything specific will help much. I used to watch Survivor. I learned two things from that show:

1. No one can pretend to be nice if they are not. Not even for a week, let alone a month! Not even for one million dollars.

2. Whoever wins attributes their win to their godlike intellect and meteoric guile. This, despite ample evidence throughout the television season, that they could have failed miserably but didn’t because someone else made a bigger mistake; dumb luck was involved; possibly divine intervention hit; or the crafty machinations of others came into play. When we win, we think it’s all on us. When we lose, we look for someone to blame who is not us. And if we win, who is to say the same path will still be open to those who follow you? (Modeling a good bet. I’d take that path, but there are variables. One indie author success won’t necessarily translate to another success. If that were true, we’d all be at number one already.)

Author Devin O’Branagan said something pithy to me in her forum the other day.She commented that no predictable marketing patterns are emerging that show a clear path to

Asia_Unbound

Are we ever free from our secrets? Find out here.

indie success. Several authors who hit it big did so in very different ways. Some people are sure they know the way up the mountain. Maybe they’re even right, but the paths are hidden and there is no one right way. I propose that their are too many variables to make broad statements about The Way. We’re going to have to Jeet Kune Do this problem, be like water and adapt as Bruce Lee insisted we do if we want to kick ass.

Get Vengeance and get surprised.

For Scott Sigler, the way up was free podcasts. Now there are so many podcasts and Podiobooks and Audible.com, that may not be The Way anymore. It might still be A Way, for some. I’ve discovered I love podcasting so I do it for the love and maybe some influential reviewer will find me that way. I do my weekly podcast for the joy, so I’m in Follow Your Bliss Mode on this one and if it gets more people to read my books? Gravy!

Some authors are convinced Goodreads is their salvation while Amanda Hocking found it didn’t do a thing for her. Some have found great success with KDP Select while Joanna Penn posted this week that she tried it and she won’t be doing that again.

If you give to get, are you a bad person? No. No one’s totally selfless and martyrdom is overrated. In giving, you will get something in (almost) any case. I’ve discovered there’s great satisfaction in sending out a free copy of one of my books to book bloggers. It’s of immediate benefit because it’s an immediate, easily achievable, finite task. (Meanwhile, editing and revising is forever.) Maybe they’ll give it a good review or maybe it will languish unread for months. Shrug. You might as well enjoy the moment. Last week I detailed my many forays into press releases and book marketing to find what worked. Nothing really did. Yet. (And that local newspaper columnist still hasn’t called about profiling me!)

So stop trying to control the universe! That’s right. Let go. Just flail. If you flail enough, you won’t sink. Get out there. Get wet. You might even end

The Dangerous Kind

Let's get dangerous. And kind.

up swimming.

Oh, I almost forgot: The other problem with Giving to Get is that if people think that’s all you’re about, they will write you off as a bad, opportunistic  person. You no doubt noticed by now that my book covers and their links to sales platforms are plastered all over this particular blog post. Ironic, no? (But I’ll save that discussion for another blog post since this is so long, no one is reading these words: Squirrel, skedaddle, opossum, leather fetish, pistachio, surreal, Topeka. See? Nobody read that. By now you’re just skipping down to the red letters, like in the Bible. If I’m wrong, post a non sequitur in the comments and see how long it will take for others to catch on. Haha! I’m so full of old rope and blue piss tonight, as my mother used to say.)

Have a charitable and compassionate day. Or make it one.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Unintentionally hilarious, Useful writing links, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 odd things you didn’t know about me

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1. Years ago I worked as a healer and got a woman who was nearly a quadriplegic out of a wheelchair. She recovered to the point of independence and is still walking and driving and traveling to this day. She became a healer in turn.

2. I’ve chipped two teeth, broken a toe and fractured a wrist while fighting. (The wrist belonged to someone else. It was a sparring accident.) I got much more hurt and into much more trouble preparing for violence than having to deal with it for real. I should have taken verbal judo, instead.

3. Before I was an atheist, I was a member of a fundamentalist Christian church. I lost my faith—or tossed it over my shoulder on the way out—after a couple of close friends died.

4. At one point I trained six hours a day in Hapkido. I thought I did it because I was a bad ass. Actually, I did it because I am not a bad ass. I was searching for a way to protect myself from a childhood filled with violence.

5. I didn’t have a sense of humor, or express it much, anyway, until I was 22. I learned I could make people laugh at the Banff School of Fine Arts. I had tried to be funny previously, but my family and high school and college experience repeatedly shut me down. “Who do you think you are?” they said. Once I got out of bad situations I realized the answer to that question is, “You’re uptight, I’m me. And that’s enough.”

6. I had a job from which I should have been fired. I made the boss laugh so hard every time we weren’t arguing that I kept the job until I finally left of my accord. Sadly. Shoulda gotten out of there much sooner.

7. I lost a job I did very well. The Powers that Be didn’t like questionable policies being  questioned. They assumed I did my job poorly because I was a pain in the ass. They didn’t recognize what integrity looked like. I’m better off. They’re the same.

8.  I’m still convinced someone’s watching me but I don’t believe in God. I cannot resolve this contradiction. Could be narcissism, though. This very list would seem to tip the scale that way.

9. I read ten books at one time. Minimum. Aside from enjoying my huge book collection, I browse a library is like a crack head loots a pharmacy in a riot.

10. I’m writing four books at one time, which explains why they are so slow to come to market. When they do arrive later this year, they’ll arrive in a mighty clump. Or, if you’re not into my fiction, a big dump.

11. I’ve been a best man only once, at a gay wedding. That should be an innocuous fact. Instead, since the world is the fearful place it is, it’s a fact of which I am very proud. One day soon, it will be a fact that should construe nothing more than an idle curiosity.

12. I used to be angry all the time. Now I sublimate my rage with humor. Actually, I joke around a lot. Now that I think of it, that’s still all rage.

13. I remember every slight, real or imagined, with perfect eidetic clarity. I’m still angry at dead people who insulted me when I was seven.

14. I am an extremely gifted massage therapist. My palpation skills, knowledge and execution are beyond compare. It’s not the sort of thing that gets much respect, though.

15. If I hadn’t met my wife and soul mate, there’s an excellent chance I’d be living in a refrigerator box. Or extremely depressed in a very responsible job with a couple of angry  ex-wives. Instead I’m always safe at home, hiding in my fortress of solitude.

16. One of the best, oldest friends I ever had walked away from me one day. I called and called and he never called back. At first I assumed he was injured or dead. Then I found out I was dead to him. I have suspicions, but the truth is, I really don’t know why that happened. I wish him well, wherever he is.

17.  Before kids, fear defined me. My children redefined my life (as happens to everyone, right?) Now it’s all about the love. I thought I’d work much more after the birth of my eldest. Then I held her for the first time, locked eyes and I knew I couldn’t allow anyone else to guard her. I became a house husband and stay-at-home dad permanently.

18.  I’m scared about a future with no financial security. I’m taking more risks, not fewer, to change that. Take the shot.

19. I wish my few friends lived right next door. There’s not much chance of that considering I’ve moved about twenty times in my life and have lived for extended times in three provinces, far east, far west and central.

20. I give a lot because I’m a people pleaser. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get much back. They say karma’s a bitch. I say karma’s an extremely slow bitch. Where’s my lottery win, bitch?!

21. My childhood really began when I escaped a small town childhood. They resented me for saying life would begin when I left. I was right, though. Cities are my natural environment. (Also, I was right about the algebra: Never used it, never will.) Escape is my answer again.

22. Fiction allows me to murder people in a socially acceptable way. I think about it. A lot.

23. I’m a caring and very sensitive person. I’m also selfish. I cannot resolve this contradiction for you if you are confused.

24. In my internal monologue, there’s a lot more swearing.

25. My ego’s bigger than yours. Also, my id is BIG LIKE HULK. But aside from reading that here, even if you met me in person, you would never ever know it.

I have held a human heart in my hands.

However, even if you saw open somebody’s head and peer in, no one really knows the inside of anyone else’s skull. 

 

Filed under: Unintentionally hilarious, What about Chazz?, , , , , ,

Friday VIDEO Reward: Aspiring Writer Meets Writing Advisor

Filed under: Intentionally Hilarious, Media, movies, publishing, Rant, Rejection, Unintentionally hilarious, , , , , ,

Old ideas about publishing, Twitter and your worldview

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Sometimes it feels like we’re fighting the tide.

The world as it was is the tide.

1. There’s the tide of institution, wherein the established people put down those who aren’t established because they aren’t established…or just because they’re different. I wear a black fedora and a long black coat with a red scarf. I look like a bad immortal from Highlander. Some people look at me funny. And what fearful mortals must they be.

2. There’s generational inertia, where old ideas get enshrined and people don’t want to change.  I made the mistake of trying to have a conversation about theoretical physics with someone who thought the field of physics had stopped developing in 1964 (coincidentally the year of his graduation from university.)

3. There’s the know-it-alls who can give you lots of reasons why you’re wrong and shouldn’t attempt anything new. Just. Like. Them. Doing something creative and new and different takes are certain amount of unreasonableness. We’re nice. But we have crazy ideas that just might work. “Put away your market analysis and focus groups and look what I made!”

4. There are envious people who feel safe in their rut if you get down in that rut with them.

5. There are people who are afraid and don’t know the way out is to act brave, especially when you don’t feel brave.

6. There are people who have their opinions and those opinions were true a short time ago. Those outdated opinions were dead on, but things changed and now they are dead. I’m hearing people worry about the death of newspapers who haven’t ever given a single thought to the end of home milk delivery.

7.  Some opinions were snarky and funny for a short time, like Twitter being all about what you had for lunch. This is usually from people who haven’t tried Twitter…yet. Are these people still going around saying, “You are the weakest link!” How about, “Where’s the beef?” Move on, please. And spring for dial-up, will you? You’re Internet connection is nearly unusable.

8. There are know-it-alls, but many more know-nothings. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

9. Then there are people who have a vested interest in keeping things as they’ve been. (Publishers holding back on e-books to squeeze a little more out of trees and authors comes to mind. Outmoded contracts are bad. Trying to retrofit old contracts to new markets is criminal conspiracy.)

10. And sometimes we’re wrong to fight. Sometimes we’re on even ground and don’t know it.

Story time: When I graduated from the Banff Publishing Workshop, one of the faculty said, “Welcome to publishing. Come to create, not to destroy us.” It hit a rather defensive note. They had put us through the wringer, so maybe they had some reason to expect us to be a little pissed.

I stood up and said, “We aren’t coming to destroy…but we value our opinions just as much as you value your own and this is a subjective business. Nobody has to feel bad about that. No one knows what’s going to be a bestseller, so let’s not pretend we know. There is no secret to selecting the right book to publish. That’s the secret.”

And yet, we were expected to feel bad, even in areas we had experience if not expertise. I often felt too young to have an opinion, year after year. With every one of my birthdays, the establishment got a year older, too. Screw that. I’m old enough to see the pattern now. Or am I too old to have these opinions?

Below is a link to an interesting article about how Twitter is changing.

It starts a bit slow and the lead is buried, but once you get to the charts, you get the real chocolate flavour.

As Dennis Miller used to say—way back when he was good and relevant “Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

How Twitter is Changing: A new study reveals Twitter’s new direction

 

Filed under: publishing, Rant, Rejection, Unintentionally hilarious, Useful writing links, What about Chazz?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Book Information Centre Blues

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Occasionally, you will run into someone who either expects you to know the unknowable or dismisses what you do know. When I worked at The Canadian Book Information Centre, it happened all the time.

Case #1: One fellow, so very arch and British one might think he was sent over from Central Casting, asked what Canada’s top cookbooks were.

You might be able to google such information now, but back then we were expected to somehow pull the numbers and titles from the ether. Or from our asses.

I told him I didn’t have those numbers.

“I would have thought that would be general industry knowledge,” he replied.

“No,” I said. “The publishers don’t supply us with those numbers. Only their accountants know the truth. You could go back through old Globe & Mail newspapers and find the top cookbooks by going through top ten lists, I suppose.”

“You can’t do that for me?”

“Uh, no. Head to your local library.” Where people are actually paid to help you find the data for your book proposal, I thought.

He hung up in a huff before I could explain that I worked for publishers as an editor and publicist. My title was Project Manager, not Phone Monkey for Anyone Who Owns a Telephone. (Did you know they’ll give just about anyone a phone? I know! Exactly!)

Case #2: Another aspiring author asked me about copyright. He was desperately worried some evil editor would steal his idea.

This is a common concern, but it’s a nearly invalid one since it happens so rarely. As it happens, I knew a lot about copyright. And so:

No, you can’t copyright an idea alone. If you could, the guy who got to Good versus Evil and Boy Gets Girl first would be rich, rich, rich.

No, you don’t have to send your manuscript to some office in Ottawa or Washington. You wrote it. Your name is on it. It’s yours worldwide (except for parts of Asia.)

No, putting the copyright symbol on a manuscript is considered unnecessary, amateurish and insulting to the editor or agent who receives it.

No, you don’t have to mail your manuscript to yourself. The idea is to get the post office’s official stamp on the sealed envelope containing your treasure (as if that couldn’t be faked.) You can if you want to, but the trick is having something worth stealing. Besides, to my knowledge, any plagiarism case that’s ever made it to court doesn’t hinge on whether you’ve got a stamp on a sealed envelope.

“Well, I assure you my manuscript is worth stealing and I will mail it to myself!” Click!

Me to fellow harried Project Manager: “If he had already made up his mind what he was going to do anyway, why call us?”

The misunderstanding of our role wasn’t the callers’ fault. We were named The Canadian Book Information Centre. However, we worked for publishers to promote their books to media.

We cut the wayward calls in half the following year by getting our listing out of the Yellow Pages.

Filed under: Books, Editors, getting it done, publishing, Rant, Rejection, Unintentionally hilarious, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

The Net is NOT Public Domain

By now you’ve heard about the Cooks Source controversy. Actually, it’s not much of a controversy. The editor of Cooks Source used a writer’s work without payment or attribution. She made things worse by telling the writer she should be grateful for the free edit and generally being ignorant and nasty about it. Then the weight of the world crashed down upon said editor as the internet descended upon her for her arrogant plagiarism. Now it’s been reported other stories were plagiarized from sources with deep pockets and lawyers (like Martha Stewart.) Things are getting worse for the editor, who seems to be socially tone deaf in her responses to the complaints. Through repetition, by every english-speaking writer on the planet, I’m sure it shall be clear to her eventually.

The thing about the web is, it’s dead easy to find out when someone takes your work. (I’ve caught a few people taking my work already. It’s not a compliment. Fortunately, when the offenders were contacted, they were apologetic (and more clueless than malicious so it worked out fine.)

I don’t have much to add to the outcry. (If you didn’t have wi-fi in your cave, there are plenty of links below the video to show you what you missed.) I found Nemspy’s video through the incomparable Neil Gaiman. Enjoy!

Filed under: Rant, Unintentionally hilarious, , , , ,

Reasons We Aren’t Published by 25

1. We overslept and underwrote. fs_worst_excuses_edit

2. Because the Man wuzz keepin’ us down, man! Also, weed.

3. Cabbage Patch Kids and comic book obsession. Also, heroin.

4. We were chasing other dreams. Idol didn’t work out.

5. Kids. Good trade there.

6. We got distracted with the regular job so we could do exotic things…like eat. And not live under an overpass.

7. We thought living under an overpass and too much alcohol was bad. Turns out, it was research. 

8. For girls, boys. For boys girls. Also, multiple variations of those two factors.

9. What we thought was good when we were young writers was not good.

10. Face it. When we were in our 20s, we just didn’t have anything to say yet.

BONUS:

We didn’t write enough. We’re catching up now, aren’t we? Right? Right? Okay, go write.

Filed under: getting it done, Unintentionally hilarious, , , , ,

Snarky Friday Bonus: The Worst Dialogue in the World

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Write believable dialogue. We read good literature for joy and also with a writer’s eye to emulate good writing. Some reading is useful as a terrible warning.

For the worst dialogue in the world, read any fiction by Ayn Rand.

No one on earth ever spoke as her characters speak. She has a philosophy to push more than a story so there’s a whole lot of preaching going on. That’s why she’s better known as a philosopher today, not a fiction writer. 

Filed under: Unintentionally hilarious, Writers, writing tips, ,

Writers Get Rejected. Deal.

Courtesy of one of my favorite haunts, Literary Rejections on Display, Writer Rejected shows that even Edgar Rice Burroughs got rejected. Tarzan was huge in the end, but in 1913, it was just another unknown writer’s tiny idea. Somebody eventually shared the author’s vision.

Don’t feel bad about your latest book or short story rejection. Instead, resubmit immediately and keep going.

Filed under: Rejection, Unintentionally hilarious, Writers,

Testing out hootsuite.

Testing out hootsuite. Bewildering at first. If I haven’t screwed this up, it’s great!

Filed under: Unintentionally hilarious, , ,

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.

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