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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Changing my life: Writer Self-care

Since coming down with a wicked flu before Christmas, I was on a roller coaster ride regarding my health. Truth be told, a lot of last year sucked regarding my health (on top of all those dead celebrities I liked!) Life got worse before it started to get better. 

At the turn of the year, my problems came to a head. As my plane descended into Cuba, my left eardrum burst. That sucked a little joy from the vacation but Cuba was my first step in a new direction. Stepping back from working so hard gave me perspective, some time to read and time on the beach to think. It took me a month to fully recover from the ear issue and complications ensued from the medications I was on. Aside from a few headaches, all that seems to be behind me. How is this relevant to writers? Because our sedentary lifestyles and the constant push to write more books faster is killing us.

Killing us. No, that’s not hyperbole. Sitting is the new smoking.

There are plenty of solutions to the sedentary lifestyle and I’ve discussed them in this space before (e.g. cycles under the desk, tread desks, standing desks, Fitbits, Garmin watches, get out and move your ass, etc.,….) It’s not just about motion. It’s also about diet. As Tim Ferriss says, “Ounces are lost in the gym, pounds are lost in the kitchen.” 

Getting better and feeling better takes effort, but I needed a new groove so I was motivated to finally make deep changes.

As writers under stress (like anyone under stress) we often self-medicate. Self-medication can take many forms. Increased alcohol consumption is the classic writer cliche. Overdoing caffeine (that’s me) or spacing out too much with Facebook and video games might qualify as injurious, too. None of those distractions is bad, it’s just a question of how much we do them and what healthy, productive pursuits those activities replace. 

I’ve been very careful about my diet for the last month. I’ll spare you the details except to say I dumped sugar, wheat and anything that comes out of a box. The larger point is, I didn’t realize how sick I was until I cleaned up my act. Sick was normal. Feeling shitty was the daily and the regular. I was eating bad food as a stress reaction. Now that I’m not doing that anymore, I feel the difference between sick and well again. I haven’t felt this good in years. I’ve lost weight, my blood pressure is normalizing and I have more energy for everything, including writing.

Will I write as many books this year as I have in past years? Maybe not but now I think I’ll be writing for more years. (I had an inkling I’d be dead by 54. Now I’m less concerned my life will be cut so short.) My books are suddenly more popular than they have been so I’m very motivated to keep going. I have so many more stories to tell and series to finish. I won’t kill myself doing it, though. I’ve achieved balance and I worry less.

Sure, sure, Chazz, but how?

Everyone will find their own way, but I can give you a few ideas about how I’m doing this:

  1. Write a book about stress management. I did and it changed my life because, after preaching this stuff for years I committed to living up to my book. (The book is called Do The Thing!) In the final chapter, I made my readers my accountability partners. I promised I’d rise to my own ideals. (Accountability partners are key. I needed someone to report to so I recruited someone as well as blabbing about it weekly on the All That Chazz Stress Relief Podcast.)
  2. If you can’t write a book about stress, read one, obviously. Please pardon the shameless plug.
  3. Do the healthy things that work for you. What’s the best exercise? The one you’ll do and enjoy. Which is the best gym? The closest one or the gym on the right hand side of the road on the way home. Can’t face a hot yoga class? YouTube and phone apps have yoga. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the doable. Whatever. Just do the thing!
  4. Seek help if you need it. Help someone else if you don’t need it. Social connection and support is an important indicator of health and mortality, too.
  5. Do not worry about what you can’t control.
  6. Find your solutions with people who get you. One of the things that attracted me to trying The Wild Diet was that the approach was achievable, I could enjoy the food and the rationale made sense to me. However, the factor that really got me going with that book was that the author, Fat-burning Man Abel James, had been overweight and suffered health problems. He isn’t a personal trainer who had always been skinny and didn’t know the struggle. He isn’t the kind of guy who hates fat people and screams 1-2-3-4! (Looking at you, Jillian Michaels!)
  7. Make you a priority. This the the plea to enact the lesson of the cliche: When the airplane is crashing, put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Since changing my lifestyle, I have more energy for my kids. They don’t care about my books, but they do want to hang out with Dad more now that he’s happy.

I could go on, but hey, find out more on my podcast or pick up the book or do whatever else you already know you need to do. Life can be better and longer. I know that for sure now.

All the best,

Chazz

 

Find out more at AllThatChazz.com.

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Free ebooks and a Prize Draw

Not in a Valentine’s Day sort of mood? Excellent! Here’s something we hope you’ll really like*:

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Click here for free ebooks and to enter a draw for a Kindle Fire or Amazon gift cards!

*10 points to Gryffindor if you caught the subtle Rocky and Bullwinkle reference.

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Payoffs

Warning: No spoilers exactly but spoilers are hinted at.

As I write this, I’m watching Bates Motel on Netflix. This season is undoubtedly the best of the series. Here’s why I think it stands out and what we might take from it for our own storytelling:

  1. There came a point where a lesser storyteller would have made Norman’s psychologist do a dumb thing. The writers didn’t take that easy turn. Instead, they made him sharp and consistently observant. I hate it when plots only work because a character is suddenly an idiot.
  2. Consistent menace. The writers had me vaguely worried even during an innocent game of croquet. That game has mallets and the scene contained a possibly dangerous conversation.
  3. The end of each episode is addictive, even when it’s not a cliffhanger per se. If this were a book, I’d keep reading. I’m still watching. This book would be a page turner.
  4. Complex characters. People are neither all good nor all bad, like real people. Would-be killers sometimes show mercy. (Chick is a fantastic character who reminded me how much I love complex villains. There aren’t enough of those in fiction.)
  5. Believable detail: Freddie Highmore delivers an amazing performance. More than that, the production really sells the authenticity of his incarceration, even down to the legal nitty gritty of getting out of an asylum (without boring us).
  6. Complexity of plot. The plot unwinds as the pressure slowly builds. Foreshadowing is hinted at here and there. Something terrible is going to happen. Even when nothing appears to be happening, the subtext is rich.
  7. Emotional depth. The plot is good (and by that I mean it matters) because it develops from rich characters. You don’t have to empathize with every character to find each one compelling.
  8. Stakes. There are innocent people (or fairly innocent people trying their best) who will meet bad ends, no doubt. What makes it work is that the secondary characters are about to get knocked off their planned trajectories. No red shirt knows he is a red shirt. He’s got plans for a long happy life until the phaser is set to kill.
  9. Mystery. Confident authors don’t spill their guts all at once. For instance, someone goes missing without explanation of where they went. The payoff is coming. If there is enough going on, readers will wait. (They won’t wait if we don’t give them enough to chew on, of course.)
  10. Every character wants something that conflicts with others’ aims. Not just heroes versus villains, either. People we love can stand in our way for their own good reasons, too.

I have the same feeling about this season of Bates Motel as I do with a good book. I must  keep going to find out where all this will lead. I think I’ll be sorry when it’s over. Compelling entertainment is not ubiquitous.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write books about AI, zombies, cool anti-heroes and strange apocalyptic scenaria. I make podcasts about how we can calm the hell down. See what I mean at my author page (and pick up a freebie) at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing

41 Faves & Details

Wallflower (Medium)

  1. Favorite author: William Goldman. Reading him taught me how to write fiction.
  2. Favorite book in my lifetime: The Color of Light
  3. Favorite book in school: Animal Farm. Portnoy’s Complaint was solid, too.
  4. An author I used to like and now can’t remember why: Norman Mailer.
  5. Overrated: Hemingway’s novels. A Moveable Feast is just mean. The shorts are still okay. 
  6. Dead authors I’d like to meet: Robert Heinlein for the sci-fi conversation, Kurt Vonnegut because I wrote a book in which he is a character (Wallflower) and I share his worldview.
  7. Favorite book I wrote: Difficult choice but either This Plague of Days, Dream’s Dark Flight or Brooklyn in the Mean Time (I can’t choose any fewer of my children than that! Geez!)
  8. Best solo podcast: Spalding Gray, Live Recordings
  9. Best news podcast: The Young Turks
  10. Best comedy podcast: The Scathing Atheist
  11. Best movie (comedy): I keep watching The Big Lebowski even though I thought I was done with it.
  12. Best movie (drama) ~ tie: Fight ClubThe Usual Suspects & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  13. Best TV Series: West Wing
  14. Best TV (comedy): News Radio
  15. Best drink ~ tie: Pina Colada & Singapore Sling (Slings used to be a big thing.)
  16. Place I need to get back to: Bermuda. When I was 16, I promised myself I’d go back.
  17. The city I’d live in if I wasn’t where I am: Victoria, BC
  18. Best architecture I’ve visited: The Peace Palace
  19. Most interesting attraction: Hearst Castle for the fascinating conspicuous consumption.
  20. Biggest celebrity I’ve met: A hug from director Kevin Smith easily beats two Canadian prime ministers
  21. Best cake: Black Forest Cake in the Black Forest ruined all other Black Forest cakes forever. Don’t even try.
  22. Podcast I once loved and now it’s hit and miss: The Joe Rogan Experience
  23. First odd factoid that comes to mind: The word for popping out an eyeball is exoculation.
  24. Strange obsession: Obscure words and Latin phrases
  25. Spookiest known fact: With her last breath, my mother waved goodbye from her deathbed.
  26. Movie obsession: At 20, Hong Kong action flicks. Now? Any movie with Humphrey Bogart.
  27. Movies I want to see: A new Iron Man movie each month starring RDJ
  28. Movie star who disappoints me most ~ three-way tie: Gwyneth Paltrow for selling dangerous snake oil, Chuck Norris for his far right political views and Donald Trump for accidentally becoming president by catering to fear. (I say accidentally because even he didn’t think he’d make it this far.)
  29. Movies people think I’d like but can take or leave: Star Wars. (Trek is better.)
  30. Least favorite thing about others: Lack of compassion
  31. Most favorite thing about others: Generosity of spirit
  32. Injuries: A messed up knee, chipped teeth, broken toe (sparring)
  33. Worst injury inflicted on another: Broken wrist (sparring)
  34. Easiest years of my life: University. I was out of the workforce doing something easy.
  35. Worst job: Working for my family in a warehouse and retail.
  36. Weirdest job: Working for Harlequin proofing romances on the night shift.
  37. Best job: Drinking coffee while writing books to entertain you.
  38. Least favorite thing about me: My memory for offences is too good and I lost touch with a lot of friends due to bouts of depression.
  39. Special talents: Frightening and uncanny laser accuracy pinpointing triggerpoints for healing intent or for pain compliance/debilitation techniques, pattern recognition in both threat assessment and postural assessment scenaria, pro jokemeister, witty banter, blasphemer.
  40. If I weren’t this, what would I be?: I’d write and direct movies.
  41. Plan for 2017: Write more books and record more podcasts as I live up to the aspirations and inspirations of my latest non-fiction book, Do the Thing!


Pick a number.

What’s your fave or detail you’d like to share in the comments?

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute, a writer and wood stove enthusiast. Please check out my author page at AllThatChazz.com for a freebie (Haunting Lessons) and the All That Chazz Stress Relief Podcast. You’ll also see links to all my books there so, hey, you know the drill. Enjoy.

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Filed under: publishing

On Writing What Will Be Read

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I’ve written a bunch of books. They were all passion projects. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my passions. The zombie books sold and continue to sell. I might be summering in Rio if I had stuck with one genre. That doesn’t mean I wish I had only catered to one genre and made it more lucrative. The details are a little more refined than that. Let’s make it simple. If I were starting again, here’s what I’d do:

  1. Pseudonyms only. It makes no difference to the final product but psychologically it’s less stressful on the post-production end.
  2. One genre and, of course, one author page per pseudonym. That separation helps Amazon algos sell books without muddling the reader pool. Readers are more specific in their wants than many authors. If they want zombie fiction, they don’t want my crime thrillers and vice versa.
  3. Build out the series into longer strings of books.
  4. Write shorter books, fewer big bricks.
  5. Focus more of my energies on the series that sell and earn the time and privilege of my artsy passions later.
  6. I won’t stretch out a story longer than it takes to tell it. That wouldn’t serve the readers. However, I wouldn’t be against writing more stories in the same universe and tying it all together. (Just did that with Dream’s Dark Flight, a stand alone that fits with the Dimension War Series.)
  7. Write more of what readers actually read instead of what I want to read. I know the typical advice is to write what you want to read (and it is important to know your genre.) However, I’m a writer. I finally figured out (since working under pseudonyms) that I can write in just about any genre and make it interesting for myself. 

There are many other things I’d do differently, of course, but that would be a good start. Now I’ll retcon and reverse engineer that plan. Or build a time machine. The time machine is coming along pretty well.

~ I’m a writer across several genres, darn it. Couldn’t beat the ADD. I just started a podcast in which I go deep on life management issues. The podcast is complementary to my latest book, Do the Thing! It’s about managing stress, pain, time and energy. Find out more on my author page at www.AllThatChazz.com

new-all-that-chazzstress-relief-podcast

 

Filed under: publishing

The KU Conundrum…

Ruby Madden

I’m re-assessing how I run my publishing business for 2017 and wanted to share some of my frustrations as an Author.

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Recently, many authors have noticed that over the last few months, the pages-read numbers for our eBooks that are borrowed at Amazon and read, have decreased dramatically. Some say it is just a slump resulting from an Election Year. Others say that something is amuck with Amazon’s pages-read reporting system that lets us know how many pages were read for stories that we have enrolled in the KINDLE UNIMITED (KU) program.ku12-9

Most of my newer titles are enrolled in KU. I like the program, both as a reader and author. I’ve always enjoyed reading for pleasure and I also read for my job as a writer and novelist. I gain inspiration from my fellow authors and love to track my reading via GOODREADS. I like knowing that…

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Bookbub, KU and the Real Stephen King

Each Thursday night the Self-publishing Roundtable goes live. You can check it out as it airs live at 10 EST or pick it up on YouTube at your leisure.

Last Thursday, I got together for an hour with Zoe York, Erica Conroy and Wade Finnegan to talk about the latest news in publishing. It’s a fun discussion. The Roundtable is always fun. Come see the knights of the roundtable talk about Stephen King battling Amazon for his identity, Author Earnings, leaving KU and plummeting author incomes.

We’re fun…but not always safe for work.

Check it out here.

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Pseudonyms & Cohesive Marketing

I recently had a great discussion with Mat and Nancy on the Author Strong Podcast. I think it’s one of the most productive and useful discussions we have had. We talked about why, when and how to use pseudonyms, book cover design, planning and repositioning a series. I didn’t have a plan so now I have to double back.

This chat could save you a lot of time and frustration (which I currently feel.)

To hear us talk this out, check out this fun discussion here.

Speaking of repositioning, I wrote a book called Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes.

Here’s the new title and cover:

brooklyn

You can pick up this thriller about my criminal past here. 

Filed under: publishing

The Lost Art of Customer Service

QA Productions

This is what happened on my last trip to Staples:

serviceI needed a ream of 3-hole punched copy paper. I needed it right then. So off the old man and I went to Staples. I hadn’t been inside this particular Staples before, so when a clerk approached and asked if I needed anything, I told him: “I need 3-hole punched copy paper. Where–” He went loping off and I hurried to follow. He pulled a package of college ruled notepaper off a shelf. “No,” sez I, “copy paper. A ream of it. If you could just point–” Off he loped, calling over his shoulder, “Follow me!” Oh, come on, it’s a big store, but not that big, but apparently some brilliant joker in corporate decided “Show don’t Tell” is the new policy. So I hurried to catch up with the rapidly moving clerk. He ended up at a wall display…

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How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors

David, as always, on point and serving up the best journalism on publishing.

Filed under: 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.

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