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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Back from the brink, here’s the latest

I’ve been out of commission for quite some time. In March, I had the flu. That was followed by a nasty bout of pneumonia. I felt terrible and my energy was gone. I’m only just beginning to feel better now and starting to work on getting my stamina back.

Amid Mortal Words - High ResolutionWith the help of my excellent editor (Gari Strawn of strawnediting.com) and my beta reader (thanks, Russ!) I managed to get my latest book published only a couple of weeks behind schedule.

Amid Mortal Words is a sci-fi action thriller that asks the question, if you could eliminate all the people who make the world worse, would you? How much collateral damage would be okay with you? Throw in a mysterious stranger on a train, one deadly book and a trip to NORAD’s missile command and you’ve got a binge read waiting for you.

At the beginning of 2019, I had not planned on writing this Amid Mortal Words. I published The Night Man and expected

THE NIGHT MAN COVERto spend the rest of the year revising several books that had been patiently waiting for me to get to them. Revising and publishing were what this year was supposed to be about. However, the plot to Amid Mortal Words kept waking me up at four in the morning. I’ve never had a book so insistent on being written. Getting it out of my head and on the page was the only way to get some sleep. Now that it’s done, I’m working on Amazon ads, revisions and getting back to a normal life. I’m so glad I write full-time now. I don’t know how I could have accommodated this much illness if I had a regular job.

I’m getting back to blogging, as well. Check out four of my latest posts on my author site at AllThatChazz.com:

  1. My Top 10 List of Books. These are my all-time favorites from back in the day.
  2. Story Tensions. These are the underlying themes of 15 of my books (#14 is the exception.
  3. What I’ve Learned (and something I haven’t). Decades of mistakes summed up in one short post.
  4. The War is Here. Where do ideas for my fiction come from? From the chaos we’re living in now.

Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you’re healthy or at least that your self-care is pointing you in the right direction. Better health, fun writing and grinding, sanding and polishing revisions are what I’m working on.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Best known for This Plague of Days, I write killer crime thrillers and epic apocalyptic adventures. Find links to all my horror, science fiction and suspense at AllThatChazz.com.

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, , , , , ,

One to read. One to hear. One to love.

“This is the post I shouldn’t write. I shouldn’t therefore I must.”

You know that post I just wrote about being contrary? Sometimes something catches fire when you say what you aren’t supposed to say out loud. It just happened on one of my other blogs, ThisPlagueOfDays.com. It was picked up by the Passive Voice and spread hither and thither. So far I’ve received two stern talking-tos (one of which I didn’t understand), appreciative notes and emails and offers of Prozac. The piece is about writing: the frustrations, the joys and the braingasms. You’re invited to have a look at my heart under the klieg lights.

And the All That Chazz podcast is finally back.

Have a listen if you dare. It’s not safe for work. I touch on control issues, the joys of colonoscopies, and get to an overdue reading from my crime novel Higher Than Jesus.

Oh, and Season Two of This Plague of Days is going great. If you’ve read it but haven’t reviewed it yet, please do. Thanks!

October’s mandates are stacked higher than September’s to-do list, but I’m dancing as fast as I can.

“Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? I ask that of all my prey.”

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Writers: Shorter is better

Six+Seconds+copyI found a way to get more traction selling books. The short story is, write shorter books for greater success. The long story? I’ll try to keep it short.

Last week I wrote a book, Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App. It’s a long subtitle for an 18,000 word ebook, but it’s SEO-friendly and therefore easy to find. Six Seconds is breezy and fun, but it’s also a useful book that achieves the task I set for it: To get people on Vine (the new video Twitter). It helps them use the toy and tool to its greatest promotional potential. It took me a week to write, from concept to completion. That little book is selling and helping my other books’ sales.

Readers can choose from many lengths of text, but for you, the writers, I hope you’ll begin writing shorter books for your greater success.

Here’s more about why:

1. With ebooks, length matters less. There are no page numbers. Get over that Amish worrying. It’s hurting you.Higher than Jesus Final NEW copy

2. One of my favorite books, The Stranger by Albert Camus, is a short book (around 50,000 words or so). That length wasn’t uncommon in the ’40s and ’50s. Book length is fashion and convention. Fashion and convention are not static conditions. You can change them. Do.

Bigger_Than_Jesus_Cover_for_Kindle3. My crime fiction in the Hit Man Series is 60 – 65,000 words. That’s fine. One reviewer thought Bigger Than Jesus was a “short, humorous novel”, but that range isn’t so short. (The story just seemed short because it powered along so fast with swift Awesomeness, so there.) Readers pop genre fiction, especially hardboiled sex and violence with quirky, noble anti-heroes, like a fat guy tosses back chocolate croissants. (Ooh, that simile hit a little too close to home.) If I can deliver a steady supply, I might have an actual career on my hands. You, too.

4. Series sell better than stand-alone books. The audience knows the characters and become invested in them. For instance, in Bigger Than Jesus, we learn about tragic events in Jesus Diaz’s childhood. In Higher Than Jesus, readers learn new things about what they thought they knew. My loveable hit man gives an adult perspective on his family history. That changes the meaning of those events and how we view his father, Marco Diaz. It’s fun to flesh out characters and play with the audience this way. It’s fun for the reader, too. They join the The Special Club of the Knowing and become as gods!

5. Some authors experiment with serialization of longer books. I’ll be one those experimenters soon. My post-apocalyptic plague tome weighs in at 125,000 words. I’m going to break that up and sell it in four or five episodes (depending on the logical break points that appear in the revision stage.) Eventually, I’ll sell it as one huge collection, I suppose. In the meantime, four or five ebooks serialized is a cheap way to feed a growing addiction.

6. More books on your electronic bookshelf give more chances for your readership to discover you. Give them more chances to discover you! Write more books.

7. Don’t pin your hopes on one book, especially if it’s your first book. That way lies Death. Well…at least Disappointment. You’ll make more selling two shorter books than one big brick, especially in the early going when you’re still finding a readership and earning their trust.

8. My biggest surprise is that selling Six Seconds is not necessarily a big boost to my other non-fiction books. It’s helping the fiction!

Crack the Indie Author CodeAspire to Inspire eBook JPGCrack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire haven’t moved much this week. Don’t ask me to make sense of that. I even included sample chapters from Crack the Indie Author Code at the end of Six Seconds. Despite having much of the same breezy, jokey tone as Six Seconds, it’s the fiction that got the happy green arrow bump.

My working theory is that I don’t understand people’s buying behaviors; they’re crazy; I’m crazy; we’re all crazy.

~I’m launching yet another podcast soon. It’s called the Cool People Podcast. Want a sneak  peek? Click here. It’s airing soon. Meanwhile, you can listen to “The Unknown Man Edition” of the All That Chazz podcast here.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, Books, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Vine, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New podcast release at AllThatChazz.com

On All That Chazz, I’ve just released a new podcast episode called Furious. I confess that I have broken a record that lasted 10 years. That was an impressive streak while it lasted. I can’t tell you what the record is because it’s very NSFW, but you can hear the vulgar, neurotic truth at the link.

In other news, I talk about casually offending listeners (and readers for that matter), Christians versus atheists, plus I read from the next chapter from Higher Than Jesus, “Rage in Heaven”. Expect action, adventure, lisping and macho BS that knows it’s macho BS. Enjoy!

Dark Higher Than Jesus banner adHave a listen. Have a great day, or make it one.

~ Higher Than Jesus is funny crime fiction about a Cuban hit man with a tragic past and mommy issues. He also has a perilous addiction to Vicodin, a burning need for righteous vengeance and he worships the gorgeous blonde glamazon, Willow Clemont. Click here to see all of Chazz’s books.

Filed under: podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author Platform: Problems, Solutions & Stuffed Speedos

THE AUTHOR BLOG PROBLEM

This blog is quite the writing and publishing funfest. I blog plenty and happily.* However, I needed a bigger boat to carry my words to readers who weren’t interested in all the backstage stuff that goes into publishing a book. I needed an author site, too. I created AllThatChazz.com some time ago to fill that need, but that was a Fat Problem stuffed into a tiny Solution Speedo. This post is about The Big Blog Fix. Read this and you’ll pull in more readers by updating your author site.

I started both ChazzWrites and AllThatChazz on the free side of WordPress. I needed AllThatChazz to become a destination website like ChazzWrites. I’ve researched many author blogs. The content is often pretty dusty and largely ignored. Author blogs tend to either static sales sites (static = not good) or they become the author’s personal blog (but I don’t have a cat!) What to do to make AllThatChazz a place people want to visit? It gets worse…

THE GRIM REALITY

Most author sites are ineffective platforms for gathering new readers. They’re useful for readers who are already on board with your books. Once they discover your books in other ways, then maybe (Big Maybe) they’ll happen to check out the author site to see what you’re about. That’s not good enough!

MY AUTHOR WEBSITE SOLUTION

I started my author site the same way everyone does. I put up some stuff about my books with links to sales pages. However, to make it a destination site, I must add fresh content often and I need to reach strangers I wouldn’t reach any other way.

Solution, Stage One:

The same month my first books went up for sale, I got into podcasting. Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting set me up when the initial tech became too frustrating. His service was inexpensive and, after a few minor technical hurdles, broadcasting to the world on no-rules Internet radio became easy. I’d done radio in college and, despite a stammer that emerges as my brain races ahead of my mouth, it’s fun. It started out as the Self-help for Stoners podcast because I was too focussed on selling the first book. It’s now the All That Chazz podcast and I reach people in 60 countries at last count. Okay, but I can do better…

STRENGTHEN YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM

I asked for help with my website last year and either didn’t get it or the help I needed was too expensive for me. (Webmasters are so often unreliable it seems everyone has a horror story.) Dave swooped in again to help me put AllThatChazz.com over on the paid side of WordPress. Dave’s my hero and, now that I was on the paid side of WordPress, I felt I had the freedom to do more with the site. It became a better tool for the job I needed done.

AllThatChazz was functional, but I needed to do  more with the site to make it look more appealing. It needed an makeover — okay, it was actively repellant and stunk of old feet  but I didn’t feel I was up to making those changes. Frankly, with so much to do, aesthetics were my lowest priority. I was worried about losing widgets or data in the switch. Lots of people had a horror story about that, too. But then…

Solution, Stage Two:

Apparently WordPress has changed so now it’s easy to switch themes. I didn’t have to copy all my widgets, though I ended up throwing plenty away before I was done revamping the site. Halfway through the changes, I began to understand how much the old look of my author site must have hurt me. She’s pretty now and her feet don’t stink.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR BLOG BETTER, STRONGER, FASTER

I have a thing for smart girls in glasses. That’s what AllThatChazz.com is now. Here’s what I did:

1. Ditched the sliding Amazon book widget. A moving sidebar is distracting and annoying.

2. Chucked out a bunch of widgets that weren’t selling anything anyway. Never look desperate, even if you are. Don’t underestimate the effect giving your blog a good airing. I didn’t realize how much stress I was dumping until I got rid of all that clutter! 

3. I switched to a very clean and simple theme. White background, black text and white space. It’s plenty legible without looking blocky. It’s more focused on content delivery now. The changes aren’t complete yet, either. When I connect with my graphic designer, Kit, we’ll change the site’s header to a brighter banner.

4. I plan to host an affiliate link, but just one or two, carefully chosen. I’m plotting some cool stuff for the sales page. However, aside from links, I’m keeping the sales stuff to that one area. Author platforms should be about helping interested readers buy, not squeezing sales. Letting go of the sales mentality frees up time and energy for writing. I admit, I’ve sold too hard on the podcast in the past. These website changes allow me to relax and let the website do more of that work.

5. I changed the menu to a minimalist solution that’s really cool. Instead of over explaining everything and hitting the desperation anvil with the heavy sales hammer, I designed an intriguing page menu that invites exploration with carefully chosen verbs. (Yeah, weird, but you’ll see.)

I’m not telling. I’m seducing. That Speedo is looking pretty good all of a sudden. 

 Check out the improvements at AllThatChazz.com.

Crack the Indie Author Code~ *I’ve already talked about the potential folly of writing about writing unless you have writing and publishing guides to sell. I do, though I still stand by a higher creative maxim: Write what you care about.

Will I use my lessons learned to change ChazzWrites, too? I’ve already added a couple of menu items at the top of this page that may interest you. However, since the traffic is already pretty good here, I’m going to focus on writing the next two books first, thanks.

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, book marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twitter: The Cull and The Call

Click here to get Bigger Than Jesus

Click here to get Bigger Than Jesus

This morning I unfollowed a couple of hundred people on Twitter. They didn’t do anything wrong, but they weren’t following back after I followed them for a long time. I feel like I’m asserting my worth. Every few minutes, someone retweets articles from this blog and I really appreciate that. I try to be helpful and (sometimes in theory, often in practice) spreading the word helps readers.

But what does following and unfollowing on Twitter mean for you?

1. Fellow crime fictioneer Claude Bouchard built a huge Twitter following by unfollowing anyone who didn’t follow him (after giving them a few days to get around to it.) Then he follows new people. He’s gathered a group of readers and fans who have discovered he’s one of the good guys who writes about bad guys. (He also gave me a great review and cover blurb for Bigger Than Jesus, so clearly, he’s an adorable genius.) Unfollowing makes room for people who are into you.

2. There’s dignity in not chasing. I recently let a business deal slide because I felt I was dealing with someone who wanted to be chased but not necessarily caught. If I’m the one who always has to initiate, they just aren’t that into me. I don’t do business with people who aren’t into me, even if it costs me money in the short term. Finding a business partner is like finding a life partner. If it doesn’t start with love, there’s a much greater than 50/50 chance that you’ll be sitting across from them at a conference table someday looking sad. When they screw you over, they’ll say, “Thank you for your years of service. This isn’t personal. It’s just business.” If you’re friends, too, they won’t have the “just business” excuse.

3. Some people on Twitter demand “engagement”, as in personally. Yet they never initiate engagement themselves. “Engaging” everyone on a follow list of decent length is bad math. I’m happy to answer questions and talk to people, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to cater to every prince and princess’s self-centered whim. Twitter is a conversation at its best, but nothing is at its best all the time. That’s feel-good advice masquerading as good advice. If Twitter were really a conversation, none of us would have had time to write or read any books or go to the bathroom. (Okay, we could go to the bathroom and be on Twitter, but it’s icky. Don’t!)

4. Following people who aren’t into you is a self-inflicted wound. I should have unfollowed  a bunch of people a long time ago. They didn’t succumb to my charms so I’m not asking them to junior prom anymore. It’s embarrassing. However, if they do that thing where they announce who unfollowed them or get pissy about being unfollowed, that’s ego and entitlement talking.

5. The TrueTwit validation thing? Please stop it. If I want to follow you, I don’t want to jump through hoops. It’s much easier for you to block the odd spammer than it is for me to “apply”. I work for myself. One of the reasons I work for myself is I don’t want to apply for a job, especially the non-paying job of following people on Twitter. It’s supposed to be the Internet. That means no arbitrary rules and fun! Don’t be Dean Wormer putting us on double secret probation.

What’s the easiest way to reclaim your dignity, grow your Twitter following and find people who are into you? Manageflitter. It’s free and details who is inactive and who isn’t following you. There are plenty of other metrics but those are the ones I use most. That and if anyone has an egg for a profile pic, they’re purged.

BONUS

Every day is be independence day here. Here comes the stirring call to action.

There are people who automatically don’t like indie authors because they’re indie. They come in suspicious and paint everyone with nasty broad brushes. I believe these curmudgeons are a vocal minority and I refuse to chase them or worry about them. People who insist classical music is the only real music aren’t into my taste no matter how hard I sell the joys of Green Day, Everlast and the Pixies. I am an independent author with an independent mind. To form a beachhead, I must find readers with independent minds. I’m an indie author. Are you an indie reader? Follow me @rchazzchute. Or unfollow me @rchazzchute.

A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.

A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a nice guy, despite the grumpy tone of this post. To hear the All That Chazz podcast, go to AllThatChazz.com. You’ll also find links to his books of suspense and very quirky crime novels there. Whatever you do, do it with dignity. 

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Seven Words or Less Contest

A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.

As I wrote Higher Than Jesus, the second in my crime novel series, I held the Six Words or Less Contest. It was so much fun, I’m doing it again, but with an extra word to give you the flexibility you need for a great entry.

Here’s the deal:

You can have a character running around in a crime novel with your name on him or her. All you have to do to win is come up with the funniest slogan for the side of a bakery delivery truck you can imagine. The catch? It has to be seven words or less and it has to be original, funny, memorable and somewhat plausible (so swearing is out for this one.) The contest ends December 7. Enter as many times as you like in the comments section below. 

The winning entry will be used in my next crime novel, Hollywood Jesus. (You guessed it. It takes place in California.) The winner will be chosen by a vote held from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10, 2012. The top three entries get a digital copy. The grand prize winner will get a free copy of the book in digital and paperback. Have fun with it! 

~ Robert Chazz Chute’s favorite bakery product is chocolate croissants with rich coffee. He’s also written two guides to writing, publishing and promotion. Crack the Indie Author Code is currently #1 in publishing and #4 in writing, and FREE this week on Amazon. Get your copy of Crack the Indie Author Code before Friday at midnight or before the sun explodes, whichever comes first. For more publishing and promotion tips, get Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. For more on books by Chazz and to hear the All That Chazz podcast, go to AllThatChazz.com.

Free to you Nov. 26 – 30, 2012. Click it to grab it now, please, or I shoot this puppy.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author Blog Challenge #26: The demons in my head

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON NOW!

The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is up on Amazon! It’s kind of the perfect day to address the Author Blog Challenge prompt: What’s your next book about?

I wrote my novella, The Dangerous Kind, about small-town claustrophobia in Maine and the deadly contempt that familiarity can breed. Two brothers have just lost their father to an accident at the mill. They both want the insurance settlement and a hunting trip might yield an opportunity to solve problems with murder. Did I mention there are surprises? I love surprises, don’t you?

Now I’ve bundled The Dangerous Kind with the following SIX shorts,

all precursors to the coming Poeticule Bay Series of novels:

I’ve dealt out deadly consequences to collections agents in the popular award winner End of

Paranormal persuasion and scary stories.

the Line (from Sex, Death & Mind Control). This time I deal with real world problems in different ways. In The Sum of Me, an aspiring writer gets financial help that hurts. I gave a reading of this short story live at a writing convention (to thunderous applause) and it also won an honourable mention from Writer’s Digest. Everyone identified with the palpable writerly desperation.

What do you do when your psychotherapist dumps you? Read Vengeance is #1, about Georgie, a mean girl with bad timing. She’ll give you some tips on how to handle it. Please note: All her ideas are very bad. It reads like steroidal YA. Watch out for the sharp and dangerous mood swings.

You’re a serial killer. Your therapist is helping you to control your impulses. She only wants you to kill the lost causes of she chooses from her patient pool. Then someone comes along who you want to slay so badly you can almost taste the blood. What then? Then it’s mind game time! Take Corrective Measures.

In Over & Out, a wife abandons her husband and children. He tries to put up a brave front while quietly dying inside (maybe literally.) Then he discovers the power of hypochondria and how self-help is sometimes the opposite of real help. Psychological horror and revelations in a little neurotic cup!

In Asia Unbound, a starlet returns to Poeticule Bay for her uncle’s funeral. She meets up with her high school boyfriend, now Marcus in the Morning, your friendly and miserable radio DJ. Drinks are thrown back, mice are killed and awful secrets from the past are revealed. Your heart might bleed for them both, but you should really only feel sorry for one of them. Life’s a mystery you can solve and still get it all wrong.

In this strange follow-up to Asia Unbound, Marcus in the Morning is at work the next day using the power of his microphone to argue with God. In Parting Shots, Marcus is about to find out that there are some arguments you definitely do not want to win! A conundrum is drummed. Fatal deals are made. Hold on to your faith. You’re going to need it.

~ Robert Chazz Chute has won seven writing awards of vastly varying importance and was nominated for a Maggy Award for his columns. He is the author of the newly released (very funny and super twisty) crime novel Bigger Than Jesus. You might know him from Self-help for Stoners, meeting Kevin Smith and such industrial films as Hitting People in the Face with Ball Peen Hammers is Wrong (except in Texas) and Writing About Yourself in the Third Person for an Author Profile Sure Sounds Douchey, Doesn’t It? Please buy his books. Otherwise he cries and it’s hopelessly pathetic. Hopeless!

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.

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

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Brain Spasms a la Twitter

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