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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Venture Galleries cover design award: Higher Than Jesus wins best hardboiled mystery

COVERCONTEST-BESTCOVER

Higher than Jesus Final NEW copy

Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com

makes great book covers.

Hire him to make your next book cover.

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TOP TEN: Reach more readers with these blog tweaks

Tips and inspiration for the indie author's journey to publication.

Tips and inspiration for the indie author’s journey to publication.

Besides writing more books (I am), I’m always looking for ways to improve so I can reach a larger audience. Here are a few things I’m doing to help my audience find me. To reach more readers, consider these improvements for your blog, if you aren’t already doing them.

1. Scannable posts.

I tend to write long posts. If I’m going to do that, I need subheadings so readers can find the information they want quickly. The average amount of time readers spend on anyone’s blog is somewhere between two blinks and a click.

2. List posts (like this one.)

If it’s going to be long, make it a list if it’s logical to do so. Everybody loves list posts and the Top Tens in Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire are among the most read and most popular chapters.

3. Shorter posts. 

Funny is great, but I should use it to make a point memorable. Otherwise it delays getting to the point. Shutting up about that now.

4. More internal links.

Readers love certain posts more than others. They should get links to similar posts so they can fall in love more deeply…er, I mean…um, get better informed.

Chazz 25. Speakpipe.

Some readers want to connect more. Now they can leave me a voicemail on my author site. Check it out and leave me a message to see how it works. It’s the tab off to the side on the right. You can do this, too. Speakpipe is easy to sign up for and yup, it’s free.

6. Upping my verbal game.

Regular readers know I broadcast the All That Chazz podcast once a week. It’s fun, but it needs more punch. Brace yourself for the new episode airing Jan. 1. It’s full of testicular fortitude (or brass ovarian fortitude, if you prefer) and explores the subject of changing our lives and New Year’s resolutions in a way that will blow your mind. I can expand my audience to even more strangers if I podcast better.

2013 will also bring more interviews (maybe you!) for fresh energy to the podcast. My elocution is much better and my stammer less pronounced when I’m in conversation. Or when I do my Hannibal Lecter impression. The serial, week-by-week reading of Higher Than Jesus is coming, too.

Bigger Than Jesus Final 96dpi7. Serialization on the author site.

I’ve already podcast Bigger Than Jesus. I’ll soon post a new chapter on the author site weekly. Serialization seems to be working well for other authors and, since I have a long series planned for my Cuban hit man, I want as many readers as possible to get the opportunity to get hooked on Jesus (Diaz, that is.) That’s also why the Hit Man Series introductory book is only 99 cents at the moment.

8. Embedded book samples on the author site.

I will soon include more pages so you can check out each book as a kindle sample. You can do this too. India Drummond explains how here. 

9. Expansion to new platforms.

After signing on to KDP Select, I’ve acted as if Amazon is the only game in town. At the end of January, my exclusivity clause runs out the clock and I’ll expand to all other platforms so expect more download options and links for whatever your tablet or e-reader of choice is. Kobo and Apple are not as big as Amazon, sure, but they are in more markets and are coming up. With an eye to the long-term, I’ll be everywhere.

Each new book will still get its first shot at Amazon in 2013, but after that first three months, I’ll give readers everywhere a man-hug, no matter their device. Yes, I know you can read any book on Amazon with a free reading app for any device, but even if you’ve got a crappy Sony e-reader, that’s what you want to use. 

10. I’ve got to make sure I reply to every comment.

This should be a no-brainer. It’s a time management issue. I appreciate it when people leave comments. However, I don’t necessarily acknowledge them all and I have to do better at that to encourage interaction and affirm I’m fully engaged. (That’s a dickish, marketing-speak way of saying, “I care. Thank you.”) When you comment somewhere and it’s not acknowledged in some way, it feels like your hand got slapped when you were going for a friendly handshake. 

BONUS

I’ve got to do more guest posts on other blogs and I must do more with my author site.

ChazzWrites gets a lot of traffic. I need to make sure there’s more discoverability among strangers, spillage and funneling to more great content for those interested in my work. Hence, more links to the author site for more opportunities for us to fall in love with each other (in a platonic, non-creepy, man-hug sort of way.)

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

 ~ Robert Chazz Chute is…does this little bio at the end of posts make me look like a douchebag who takes himself too seriously? Does this bio make me look phat or just fat? Check out the All That Chazz podcast at AllThatChazz.com. For not much longer, you can find all my books of suspense and hardboiled action here.

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#NaNoWriMo: How to make reading like cardio

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

 Get all the details of the Seven Words or Less Contest and enter here.

Last night I wrote two more chapters for my next crime novel, Hollywood Jesus, starring my Cuban hit man, Jesus Diaz. The first chapter worked very well, but the second needs tinkering right away. Here’s what happened and my rationale for how I’m dealing with it.

The first chapter of the day was a fast-paced and clever chase (even if I say so myself). Good guy* chases bad guy/reversal/good guy’s now at a disadvantage and, as they say, the hunter becomes the hunted. The tension cranked higher when I put the good guy in a seemingly impossible situation. He’s either dead or going to federal prison or maybe even Gitmo if he’s caught. The latest police tools, tactics and technology are used against him and Diaz has to figure out a solution.

Actually, it would be awesome if my hit man figured out the solution himself, but I wrote him into a corner and I had to find a plausible way to write him out of that trap. Whenever I stick him in a bad situation, he’s looking at me going, “Get me out of here, you sadist!” I did get him off the meat hook again and it was both funny and sweat-inducing. Yay, me. Now what about the next, problem chapter?

The tension has to be cranked down from that high a little bit so there’s some kind of emotional range for the reader. However, I messed up. I cranked the tension down too far with a transitional chapter. I hate that. In the transitional chapter, I had too much exposition with not enough events occurring. After a daring escape, my hero gets picked up by his Sancho Panza with fresh clothes and a new mission to add to his growing pile of trouble. The chapter is devoted to explaining to Diaz what happened in his absence.

There’s a lot to fill in for Diaz and for the reader: A friend and an enemy are in hospital, the ultra-bad guy is on the loose and the cops are investigating the violent and creepy events of the night before. The hit man has to find these things out, but changing clothes while going for a ride in the back of a van slows the pace too much. I want the reader to have a breather for a moment, but I don’t want the reader to actually recover. For cardio and thrillers to work, you have to keep the heart rate up.

The Fix: After the perilous escape, Jesus Diaz will be picked up by his aide. However, the chapter must start at the next beat where, aside from being a fugitive from the LAPD and the FBI, he’s got a new client thrust upon him by the old client. Both are beautiful, intelligent women in danger and at the moment, both hate the hit man’s guts. I’m sticking with the conflict instead of allowing the congenial conversation with the buddy who gives him a safe, friendly ride.

But why not plunge forward, blow up the word count for the day and “fix it in post”? I see the problem now so I’m fixing it now. Dealing with the problem immediately saves me revision time later. When I go into full revision mode, I want little puzzle pieces that have to fit, not big chunks that throw off the trajectory of the story, kill the fast pacing and make me go all the way back in order to move forward.

Besides, I was already well past the word count for the day with the previous chapter. On those days I’m productive, I sleep well. The sleepless nights after a non-productive day are torture. There are only so many days.

Speaking of the next book, have you entered for a chance to get your name in Hollywood Jesus yet? Get all the details of the Seven Words or Less Contest and enter here.

* I use “good” guy here loosely. Jesus Diaz is a killer, but funny and ultimately, a sympathetic vigilante. I think of my books as Bad versus Evil.

~ The sweetest  fig Chazz ever loved was the one he stole from a tree in the former Yugoslavia. Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories, Self-help for Stoners and Sex, Death & Mind Control as well as the guides for writers and self-publishers, Crack the Indie Author Code (free until Friday) and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. For links to all the books and to hear the latest All That Chazz podcast, slip over to AllThatChazz.com.

Free until Nov. 30, 2012. Click it to grab it now!

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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.

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#NaNoWriMo: Evolving a series from one book

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

Readers love books in a series. Maybe when you’re done your NaNoWriMo manuscript, you may consider turning one book into several. I’m having an interesting experience with my crime novel series I thought I should share with you because it’s a new thing for me and it may be helpful to pull back the curtain on the process as it’s evolving.

Last year, I wrote a short story about Jesus Diaz, a hit man I included in my suspense collection Self-help for Stoners. The assassin I wrote about was a mature and experienced, cold-blooded sort of guy who, at the request of their soon-to-be ex wives, killed men going through divorce. Jesus (pronounced Hay-soose) knew what he was doing and was very slick. Still, things went awry in an interesting way. That was the beginning of the Hit Man Series, but I didn’t know that then.

The revelation came when I thought, I want to write a Coen brothers’ movie! Self-help for Stoners has a lot of funny stuff in it (my favorite is the funny erotica) but I wanted to write a whole novel that played with one character in a quirky way. I thought about what origins a guy like Jesus might have to make him more sympathetic. Despite what he does as an enforcer, he does not see himself as the bad guy. No bad guy does. He’s a victim and a vigilante caught in the gears of New York’s Machine (the Spanish mob).  Think of all those Coen brothers’ movies and you’ll get some of the flavor: The Big Lebowski, Fargo, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple and Miller’s Crossing. Death always waits on the wide and easy road out of town. Perfect fit. I write about Escape. All my books and every one of my stories is ultimately about Escape. Along the way, I try to find a balance between realism and funny. People don’t get knocked out too easily in my stories, for instance. There are some bad guys who are entertainingly dumb, but nobody’s dumb just to make the plot work. Everyone has a goal that conflicts with everyone else’s motives and perspective.

“Worthy of Elmore Leonard with shades of Thomas Harris…”

The first book in the series is Bigger Than Jesus. I wanted to start the action off with a bang, so when we meet Jesus Diaz, he’s hanging off the side of a building in New York. The book reads like one long chase scene with a few sparse flashbacks to give depth to the character. Dexter is driven by psychological issues. Jesus is driven by circumstance and a need for money and delusions of grandeur. He’s obsessed with movies and wants the life he see in them. In the first book, there’s no sex but lots of violence and funny dialogue. I’d call it more gritty than gory. The story often plunges the reader into a web of deception and, because everything is seen from Jesus’ limited perspective, we only uncover the mystery of what waits in locker #408 as the Cuban hit man discovers the truth. Jesus begins his story arc as a guy who can lie well and has some skills he learned in the military, but he’s certainly no master assassin.

I watched and listened carefully for feedback before and after publication. People loved the jokes and surprises. Some thought there should be more sex and less swearing. I kept that in mind as I got into writing the second book in the series, Higher Than Jesus. I put in more jokes and surprises and yes, more sex. We discover new things about Jesus Diaz’s history. (That’s kind of a fun tip of the hat, playing with readers as they find out that Jesus has been lying to himself as well as others.)

Higher Than Jesus has a fast pace, but not quite as fast as Bigger Than Jesus. We slow down long enough for a funny and somewhat poignant chapter in which my hit man is failing at group therapy. We get into issues around addiction, too. From the first chapter, the tension slides in like a knife between ribs with a quarter twist as Jesus kills a bad guy on Christmas Day. Complications ensue around an arms deal that has national and historic ramifications. He’s learning and getting better at his job, but things still go awry.

Free on Amazon until November 23: A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.

Through each book I used research and consulted with friends, one who’s ex-military and another who is a SWAT trainer. Some clever aspects of the plot turned on technical details my research supplied. As I write Hollywood Jesus, my hit man is still on the run from the mob and the FBI. The events from the first two books are by no means erased. What’s different as I write the third book in the series is Jesus’s confidence and competence. He’s still at the mercy of Murphy’s Law, but now the book includes the latest technology and techniques in espionage and counter-espionage. Jesus is a troubleshooter for a security firm, specializing in dealing with celebrity stalkers. He deals with them in very unorthodox ways, often using their own tactics against them. None of the tactics or tech is too far out there, so it’s not like a Bond movie, with Roger Moore. However, there’s a lot of very cool spy tech that’s available to anyone commercially. 

What’s the arc of the series so far?:

#1 was a pure crime adventure with dark childhood secrets driving the character and a mystery leading to escape. That whipped the action across the finish line.

#2 goes deeper into the character, but at its heart it’s hardboiled action with a chapter that drips with sex and a lot of violent action broken up by fast, witty dialogue. There’s less swearing, especially since one bad guy hardly says a word and the other sees himself as quite pure and above all that. I’m proudest of the psychological gameplay throughout, the funny chaos, the clever kills and a fight scene that actually reveals something about the character and his past instead of fighting for action’s sale alone.

#3: I’m still writing Hollywood Jesus, but I think that, though the story starts fast, the tension cranks up with more range of emotion. Yesterday, for instance, Jesus confronted a very deadly and powerful stalker to make Jesus (and the reader) understand the enormity of the danger he faces. That night, Jesus scans the audience at a comedy club for the celeb stalker as the client does her act onstage. We got a sense of why this celebrity is so special and worth protecting. I loved writing that scene because every line is from the stand up act I’ve had in my head for a while and I think it’s pretty hilarious. (I’ve been thinking about doing an open mic at Yuk Yuks sometime, so maybe I’ll try my material onstage myself before publication to see if I get the same laughs as Legs Gabrielle.)

The tech stuff in Hollywood Jesus fascinates me and always has. I’m drawing on a large library of dirty tricks, revenge fantasies and bad guy techniques I’ve researched for years. This is an amazing time to be a crime novelist. There’s so much information to draw on.

What’s stays the same among all three books so far?

The humor. One thing I share with Jesus is smart-assery, especially when in danger. Reversals and bad fortune plague Jesus, often because his plans and my plots are so elaborate and my hit man is not as smart as he thinks he is. The assassin’s character does change through the books. By the third, he’s wary of falling in love too quickly, which is a fatal flaw with him. He begins to see himself differently by the end of the second book so, though he’s always been clever, by the opening of Hollywood, he’s more proactive and in control…or so he thinks.

Things are rarely as they appear in the Hit Man Series. I have an outline, but I’m not sure of all the details of what’s coming. For Jesus, I’m more of a pantser than a plotter. I can’t wait to see what he does about what I throw at him tomorrow.

Grab Higher Than Jesus before midnight, Friday, November 23rd

and it’s free!

(There’s an intriguing offer for more free ebooks inside and, fair warning, all the prices will be going up soon.)

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes hardboiled suspense with quirky twists. He’s also written two books about writing and publishing: Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire.

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Author interview with Robert Chazz Chute

Over at Forgotten Realms, a fun interview awaits, including why the people at Staples were so mean to me last week.

I’d never been asked free association questions before. Tarek asked  “Child?” I thought “Money.” “Ocean?” “My answer was, “South Pacific”, but I meant the musical. My next thought was SpongeBob. Of course I also talk about Higher Than Jesus: bigger, even funnier, more hardboiled, more skip tracer tricks and The Major Chapter of Sex will melt your wallpaper.

By the way, Bigger Than Jesus, the first funny, clever, hardboiled thriller in the Hit Man Series is free this week! That’s right! FREE, until Nov. 9. Click it to grab it. If you love it, please review it. Thanks! 

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#NaNoWriMo Tip: How to blast out of the gate

Find tons more tips and inspiration here.

As you write your manuscript, grab your readers by the eyeballs right away. Here’s how:

Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire both have bonus offers of free ebooks. Buy two books and you get four!

1. Start late and bait the hook. When writing guides say, “Come in late,” they mean to bring the reader into the action quickly without throat clearing. Stick your media in the res.

2. “Throat clearing” means  focussing the back story and distractions more than the action. (Usually weak first draft paragraphs tarry too long over the weather, flora and fauna.)

3. Instead of taking too long to set the scene, let character be revealed through action and dialogue.

4. Look for the unusual and strong verbs in to give your hook strong bait.

5. Preserve mystery to pull readers in. Don’t give it all away at once. For instance, if your protagonist is chasing someone through a dark warehouse in your opening paragraph, don’t tell me she is FBI right away. Focus on the pursuit and the danger around the next corner. Let the details leak through. It’s much more intriguing to have a woman chasing a bad guy when you don’t know right away that she’s on the righteous side of justice, has a ton of training and resources and her back up is on the way.

Free to download Nov 5 to Nov 9, 2012.

Here’s my opening to Bigger Than Jesus (which, ahem, happens to be free to download here from Monday, November 5 to Friday Nov. 9.)

Water drips from the soot-black gargoyle’s tongue like thin saliva, as if the grotesque statue is mocking you and eager for blood. Panama Bob Lima clings to the gargoyle, using it as a shield. You are on a thin ledge on the side of a very high building and for once you wish you wore your Nikes instead of twelve-hundred dollar Tanino Crisci shoes. So far, this job is not going at all as planned.

Rationale: A mood is set in an unusual situation. Weather (the water through the gargoyle) is mentioned because it’s relevant to the danger the protagonist faces and we get a taste of the crazy to come. The second-person, present tense brings the reader into the middle of the action and provides immediacy. The second-person present tense and reference to the ominous gargoyle is purposely disorienting in the first sentence, just as the threat of the long fall is dizzying. It’s an opening that poses questions: What is the job and why the pricey shoes? The protagonist is probably not there to help since Panama Bob uses the gargoyle as a “shield”. The opening tells the reader they can expect a fast pace and the ironic last line is a clue that the story won’t be told straight. Dry humor is ahead.

6. Open every chapter with a baited hook and action. Give readers action that propels and compels and you’re on your way to a better book.

Higher Than Jesus, the follow-up to Bigger Than Jesus, is available here.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of five books of suspense and two writing guides that, if you’re reading this far into this blog, you obviously need. They are Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. Check out all of Chazz’s books here.

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Ta-da! Motivation, Inspiration & Information for Writers

Whether you’re about to throw yourself into the teeth of National Novel Writing Month or every month feels like a NaNoWriMo frenzy, I have two new books (in pixels and paper) to keep your writing and publishing flow: Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. Boiled down from over 1,000 posts on this blog, I’ve edited again, added bonus writing and publishing  tips plus new content that’s never been seen on ChazzWrites. 

Need more? How about free ebooks? When you sign up for my newsletter at AllThatChazz.com, you automatically get a shout out on the All That Chazz podcast and a plug for your website. However, there’s a new and different cross-promotion you can’t get anywhere else. Sign up for the newsletter, answer a qualifying question in the back of the books, and you get a coupon to receive a free ebook of suspense. Complete the easy giveaway instructions and you get the podcast plug, and/or Sex, Death & Mind Control and/or Self-help for Stoners! If writing and publishing books aren’t for you, there’s a similar offer in the back of Higher Than Jesus, the next instalment of The Hit man Series. (#1 was Bigger than Jesus.)

Jump in for the hardboiled fun. Higher Than Jesus promises a little less swearing, snappy dialogue and jokes, more sex, more twists and more clever violence. My Cuban hit man is embroiled in a conspiracy around an arms deal in Chicago that has dire ramifications for the entire United States. It’s a classic tale of Bad versus Evil.

LATEST PODCAST: The Halloween edition of the All That Chazz Podcast is up with a reading of “The Way Out is Through”, a chapter of Bigger Than Jesus. Hear the podcast at the AllThatChazz author site.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories, Self-help for Stoners, Crack the Indie Author Code, Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit). 

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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.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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