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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Self-pub Highlights: The Best and Worst of the First and How to Succeed by Failing

Please click here to pick up Parting Shots.

When you can’t get out of the bathtub on your birthday, something’s gone wrong in your life. And by your life, of course, I mean mine. The other night I tore a rotator cuff muscle boxing. It hurts when you throw a hook and miss. I ripped it up pretty well. I’d had shoulder pain off and on for weeks due to to my incredibly sedentary lifestyle and the computer mouse. I sit very still to write. I can’t write and walk around at the same time. I’m chained to a desk by an intravenous tube that carries coffee. When the shoulder pain hit, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. The pain is enormous. I almost called my wife to help me out of the bathtub. On my birthday. Not one of my best birthdays, I have to say. In fact, it might have been the worst.

Long-term?

Pain is good.

I will use this.

I did manage to get myself out of the tub. Getting my shirt on? That was five minutes of hell and wishing the Advil would kick in faster. It didn’t. I’ve had shoulder pain this bad before (on the other shoulder.) When it hurts to laugh, you know it’s bad. When you have to devise new strategies to do mundane tasks, it’s makes you mad. When it happens on your birthday, it makes you sad.

However, I won’t let all this sadness and badness and madness go to waste. At some point, I’m sure I’ll have a hero try to fight the bad guy in a climactic scene and the hero’s shoulder will be all messed up. That’s the easy take away from this experience.

Let’s go deeper.

Staying home to write books full-time? This is awesome. This is the fulfilment of a dream. I am so lucky to be able to devote myself to this enterprise all day. However, if I don’t take better care of my physical body, I will lose this opportunity. When every movement reminds you of pain, it’s hard to concentrate on work. Pain saps productivity, whisks away opportunities and manufactures misery far from the site of origin.

But let’s go deeper.

The pain in my shoulder is not simply a rotator cuff tear. It’s a symptom. I have not been to the gym for quite some time. I have not been taking care of myself. Why is that?

My excuse…no…my dumb reason is that I have been swimming in the launch of my books. I have no excuse. I let myself forget that success is not a single facet. To get my shit together, I have to take time to take care of all aspects of my life: family, fitness and work. I am not of one dimension. I was so busy with work, it gave me the excuse to be lazy in other areas of my life.

Translation:

I have books to publish! I have no time for the gym! Publishing is so exciting I don’t even have to feel bad about not going to the gym because I’m being productive!

Yeah, right. But for low long, Spock? How long?!

Concentrating so much on marketing made the disappointment at the initial outcome darker. My sales aren’t anywhere near where they need to be (yet, goddamnit! Yet!) The reviews haven’t been rolling in (yet, goddamnit! Yet!) But I’ve started up businesses before. I know how this works…or doesn’t work. These things take time. Readers will get around to writing reviews. Word will spread. It doesn’t happen on a schedule. You may as well try predicting cloud formations as plot book sales. But I do have a strategy. While figuring out how to manage our time in the new year, I told She Who Must Be Obeyed that I think I’m through The Worst of the First.

The Worst of the First is the downside of that incredibly creative, energetic time when you start up a new enterprise. You have to get a business license and take care of paperwork that is not directly related to your success. You order business cards or figure out technical aspects that feel removed from the core of your enterprise. The Worst of the First is about trying to do everything at once, just to get things rolling forward. The Worst of the First is about the trivia that no reader ever sees. It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff no one cares about, including me, but it has to get done. It’s part of building inertia, too.

Then there is The Best of the First. Here are the highlights of my first couple of months as founder, president, author and Chief Dude in Charge of Wastebasket Emptying at Ex Parte Press: Three ebooks up on Amazon and just about everywhere else by November 1. Recorded a podcast, Self-help for Stoners, to help market my book of the same name. Tried and failed to get my first podcast published. Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting helped me to get the podcast up and out there. He helped me get control of my author website, too (allthatchazz.com). Got the paperback formatted with Jeff Bennington’s help. Got new art for the paperback done with my graphic designer, Kit Foster. Published Self-help for Stoners through CreateSpace. Published three short stories in the last week (Parting Shots, Asia Unbound and Vengeance is #1) on Smashwords.com. Maintained my Scoopit! Page, three blogs, three Twitter accounts and published six podcasts. Now the podcast is also available on the Stitcher app as well as iTunes, so it’s everywhere.

When so much positive stuff was happening at once, I was riding high. But I wasn’t leaving my desk. I’ve been married to my Mac, which makes She Who Must Be Obeyed jealous. I’m through the imbalanced part now. My shoulder reminds me with every move that I have to concentrate on the core. That means publishing three novels in the next year, yes. That also means taking better care of me so I can accomplish those goals. It means eating right and getting to the gym. That’s also part of the writing process. It clears the brain and keeps my body ready for writing marathons. Sitting still for too long is too hard on the body. We’re made to move and if we don’t, we die.

On my birthday, I checked my book sales and found the accounting had finally come through. It wasn’t good, but the beginning is rarely good. I’ve been here before. I know the terrain. I know the pain hammering me in the shoulder is a reminder of what a low point feels like. The sinking feeling as I looked at my first sales numbers—on my birthday!—made me think for a moment that all my marketing efforts had been wasted. But no. It’s just a normal part of The Worst of the First. My readership hasn’t found me yet. You have to market your books when you think you should be using all your time to write. In weak moments I do think, All I should do is just write and revise and do nothing else. But then I remember this is not 1987. Seclusion is a luxury for old media authors. I’m a new media author. I must not hide from the world if anyone is to ever hear me.

The fattest kid at Fat Camp has the most potential. When you reach critical mass and are feeling low, you can look up. There is so much to learn and so much to conquer. I am grateful to have so much fun and trial ahead of me. When we succumb to the idea that the best times of our lives are behind us, we truly begin to die. This is just the beginning and there is so much to look forward to! Writing this post, holding tight to this pain and this disappointment? That’s going to make the triumph all that much sweeter, don’t you think? I’m going to appreciate the win more when it comes. And I’m through the gauntlet and into the glove already! I made it through the Worst of the First. Yes, there will be frustrating times ahead, but I got through the first couple of months of the enterprise. I got to the starting line. A lot of people dream of the starting line but never get there. They never get the chance, or take the chance, to run. Now I’m running and I’ve got some inertia behind me. I have you behind me. (I know because you’ve read this far.)

My resolutions for 2012?

I will use this. Failure is fuel.

Failure is only failure if you let it keep you stuck in the tub. 

Happy new year.

If it isn’t happy,

MAKE IT SO.

Filed under: DIY, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, self-publishing, short stories, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , ,

A Day in the Life of a Writer

4 AM: The iPod is still in my ear when I wake from a dream in which She Who Must Be Obeyed tells me I have a “liganda” tumor in my nose.

4 AM plus 20 seconds: Look up “liganda” on the iPod. It’s ancient currency in the form of an iron spear.

4 to 6 AM: Listen to hypnosis recording, listen to Michell Plested’s wonderful Irreverent Muse podcast (great interview with Mike Stackpole on the business of e-publishing). Listen to StoryWonk Daily (a podcast that is new to me but good.) The hosts talk about the humorous potential of Bartleby The Scrivener. When I studied it, it was in an existential angst/philosophy context and I totally missed the laughs. Great discussion on The Princess Bride, though. Shower.

6 AM – 7:30 PM: Edit a typo in the file to be printed at CreateSpace that’s been bugging me. Release print copy of Self-help for Stoners to the world in print on Amazon. Hahahahahahahahahahaha! The people who prefer print can finally order it in paper.

7:30 PM  to 8:45 PM: Make lunch sandwiches and evict children to local indoctrination centre. Make coffee and prepare myself for the day’s onslaught.

8:45 to noon: Inspired by Mike Stackpole interview, I think about what I’ve got in the story stockpile. I dig up Asia Unbound from Dropbox. That’s a good short story I wrote ages ago that’s doing nothing for me where it sits. Resolve to format it and put it up on Smashwords. I revise the short story, format it, find a great shot to use from Morguefiles, run it through a free graphics program (Picnik) so I have a cover in record time (only one sad aborted attempt.) Get an ISBN from Canadian agency online (they’re free and easy in Canada) and insert metadata. Upload. For a change, I price it at $1.99 as an experiment even though The Dangerous Kind is only 99 cents and is much longer. I tell myself it’s a better cover and it’s all still just couch change. I got that done so quickly and without problems that I allow myself a feeling of triumph. The morning went so incredibly well.

Noon to 1 PM: Lunch and watch an old episode of Newsradio on The Comedy Network. I love Newsradio. I mourn Phil Hartman every time. Always and forever.

1 to 2 PM: Let the world know Asia Unbound is available on Smashwords: Facebook, two blogs, three Twitter accounts, Google+. Find several articles of use for research and stimulation. Use Scoopit! to post them to the blog. Check three of the four email accounts. Find some nice reader mail. Ask for some reviews of new and old books. Delete all other email.

2 to 3:30: Rush off to the other side of the city to perform last ditch Christmas offensive while listening to The Joe Rogan Experience podcast to get myself through the mall crowds without using a machete.

3:30 PM: Back just in time for spawn’s return from local indoctrination centre. Debrief/start laundry for this evening’s Christmas concert.

4 PM to 5 PM: Email check. No love. Search Dropbox for more old short stories that are brilliant. I reject three but find four that will be suitable for more Smashwords books. Around 4:45 I begin this blog post.

5 PM: #1 Son announces that he has changed his mind and he doesn’t want a globe for Christmas, which is surprising because he is a cartographical prodigy. I abandon writing this blog post. The boy now wants a saxophone for Christmas. He has a letter for Santa. I inform him that Santa’s surely already packed his order for the globe and the letter will not arrive in time for Christmas. #1 Son announces that Santa is magic and that if he doesn’t deliver, he’s not real and this will be the worst Christmas ever. The boy begins to sob as I realize that the Christmas concert is only one hour away and I’m not wearing pants. The laundry must be switched to the dryer if we’re to get to the Christmas concert in time. I comfort #1 Son as I rush to the dryer. His angst turns to anger. My guttural comforting sounds turn to gritted teeth and a harried quest to boil frozen hot dogs. (Hint: Nuke ’em first and let the water do only a quarter of the work.) Scream for #1 Daughter to get ready for Christmas concert. Pray for happy asteroid strike.

5 to 5:55 PM: Diatribe escalates. Tears are shed, most of them his. I tell him Santa is made of generosity and that the joy of giving is the essence of Christmas and so Santa can never die. A circular debate on the nature of magic ensues. Boy gets sent to his room. Daughter goes to concert. Boy is scarred for life, though he soon apologizes for being miserable. We hug it out. He’s both sure there’s no Santa and still wants to send his letter to Santa. (Syllogism? Never mind. This is not the time to discuss that.) Pretty sure my mother would have beaten him with a wooden spoon by now. I would never have gotten away with this and I would have been hauled off to the concert by my ear. I understand the impulse but instead hug him harder. Consider choking him out so he has a nap and I leave no bruises. I eat a hot dog in anger and sadness. He still breaks into sobs at his realization that we are filthy liars and the world is not as he has been told. The sweet innocence was what we wanted and it was great. Now? We pay in emotional cataclysm. And he’s not going to the concert. She Who Must Be Obeyed takes #1 Daughter to said concert since I saw the same concert last night.

6 PM: I’m wearing pants that are hot from the dryer. The effect is like morphine and I realize I’ve been up since 4 AM. Sweet oblivion wraps its loving arms around me and I pass out. Just before I lose consciousness, I am so grateful. Boy is anaesthetized by a cartoony video game that trains him for warfare. Good. He’ll need it.

7:30 PM: Awake in time for a Big Bang Theory and note that I’m not getting to the gym today. Again.

8 PM: She Who Must Be Obeyed and #1 Daughter return from Christmas concert. Boy has returned to his human form and is apologetic and resigned to a world without magic or charm. Dying inside, I retreat to the basement to finish this blog post. And hide.

The plan for the rest of the evening:

The children shall be read to and then thrown into bed at high velocity around 10 PM.

Back up plan:

Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?

I’m not up to writing another chapter of my new novel, anyway, so that’s a write-off. It must be the top priority in the morning. Tonight shall be for editing the Self-help for Stoners podcast. It won’t take long. The program is improving and I’ve found ways to make the production process go much faster. It will be done tonight and posted Thursday night. It’s Christmas…so will anyone be around to listen to it? I shrug and push forward with the grim determination of that dumb workhorse that ends up as glue at the end of Animal Farm.

Also to-do: Must research Podiobooks. Also, the tech consultant for one of my web pages calls tomorrow so I must make sure I have all my passwords and questions ready. Call Dad. (UPDATE: Forgot to call Dad. Too late to call him since it’s now 10 PM in Nova Scotia. Damn.) Address Christmas calendar envelopes. Figure out an actual schedule for tomorrow so it’s less random and I get some revising and writing done.

Input into iCal and USE IT!

The rest of the evening, the recreational part: Devote self to a book on the craft of writing mysteries which I’ve been trying to get to for days.

UPDATE at 8:38 PM: Boy sneaks past the machine-gun nests and barbed wire and arrives in bunker office to report that his #1 Sister is calling him a Pample Moose. “What’s a Pample Moose?” I correct his pronunciation and inform him that the translation from French means “Grapefruit.” #1 Son collapses in hysterics and I remember why I neither strangled nor chased him around the house (outside and around the house) with a wooden spoon. Still giggling, #1 Son races up the stairs yelling, “You called me a grapefruit, you hoser!”

Projected bedtime: 1 AM.

(Who are you kidding? You slept one and a half hours. You’ll be up till 2 AM at least.) 

Tonight’s post-hypnotic suggestion just before I pass out:

What happens next in my book? Is it time for Legs Gabrielle to meet the deputy who suspects her of murder, or is that rushing it?

C’mon unconscious genius! Roll me a seven!

Tomorrow’s wake up call:

Either the clock radio at 8 Am, or much earlier if I have another dream about fictional nose tumours.

Filed under: publishing, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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