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

Write and publish with love and fury.

How I handle trouble (like Jesus)

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I FINALLY OPEN UP TO YOU

ME: I handle trouble like Jesus. No, not that Jesus. I mean Jesus (pronounced “Hay-Soose”) Salvador Umberto Luis Diaz, my Cuban hit man from Bigger Than Jesus and Higher than Jesus. Recently I had to talk to Authority to get something fixed. I can’t go into details about the mission, but I will tell you how I approached the problem by channeling my alter ego/main character.

YOU: Wait a minute, Chazz, your main character isn’t just your protagonist? You’re actually saying he’s your alter ego? And he’s a hit man?

ME: The truth is, I’m not much use in most situations. Can’t cook or balance a chequebook or fix plumbing. My idea of small talk is asking if strangers believe in eternal damnation. Quantum mechanics, the Singularity and Simulation Theory is cool, but I’m apparently incapable of breezy talk about your job, your kids or your trip to Cancun. I can dislocate a shoulder and fix it again, but those opportunities don’t arise often…(ahem)…enough.

However, when out on a mission, I dress well and all in black, complete with black fedora.

YOU: A fedora? Really? That’s a…bold choice.

(A new edition, somewhat revamped.)

(A new edition, somewhat revamped.)

ME: It’s called style if you carry yourself like you don’t give a shit. I dress like a bad immortal from Highlander (soon to be released again and, as with Green Lantern, ruined by the otherwise beautiful Ryan Reynolds).

BACK TO HIT MAN FASHION CHOICES

Remember John Cusack in Grosse Pointe BlankCameraAwesomePhoto tie when Dan Aykroyd asks him to join a union for hit men? He replies, “Look at me! Look at the way I dress! I didn’t get into this business to have any relationships! I don’t want to join your goddamn union. Loner, lone gunman! Get it? That’s the whole point!” God, I love that movie. My books have a similar sensibility and quirky comedy.

MY PIN SAYS “EVIL DOER”

That pin and a hard look gets me better service wherever I go, from sales people to cash registers. Jesus thinks like I think in many ways. My sense of humor is the same as Jesus’s. I write him. How could it not be so? We share a worldview about violence, revenge, love and commitment. (Though I wasn’t a Cuban émigré tortured in a Miami basement in my childhood, I did grow up in rural Nova Scotia, so clearly there are parallels in our psychological impairments.) We’re both paranoid and lie with a facility that would alarm you if we weren’t in the professions we’re in. Our motto is the same: Question Authority before Authority questions you. We both seem to have surprisingly fast reaction times, but that’s just because we’re always plotting how to respond should anything bad happen. We don’t relax. We anticipate and simmer.

"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.”

THE MEETING

True story: When I got into the meeting with Authority today, I made some jokes, but my jaw was tight and by the end of the meeting my rage showed. I reined it in and kept my voice low. Authority was cooperative. Authority was nice. Authority pressed his back into his chair, wide-eyed, nodding and worried. Even when I made a joke, Authority was afraid to laugh because Authority knew I was serious and there’s something there that I’m trying to hold back but the leash is slippery and the chain links are weak. Jesus Diaz is a “Do it to them before they get a chance to do it to you” sort of guy. We understand each other.

Authority agreed to my requests because I stood up for the little guy, because I’m right and because I channeled the Jesus in me. I love Jesus. Sure, he’s a contract killer, but he’s a victim, too, and if you read the books, you grow to understand and like him at the very least. Mr. Diaz is complex and tragic and funny and he’s the underdog who, despite all odds against him, somehow wins…or sort of wins. I relate to him on a visceral level.

ADDENDUM

YOU (brightly and, I suspect, disingenuously): O-kay…. That’s our time for today!

ME: Thank you, doctor. Same time next week?

YOU: If that’s okay with you, Mr. Chute, sure.

You think I missed that snarky little addendum of yours. You said it under your breath, but I read lips. After “sure” you added, “you psycho.” 

Maybe it was even a subconscious thing you aren’t even aware you did, but I’m sure. My face betrays nothing. I nod toward your office window and point to the parking lot.

ME: There’s a homeless-looking guy who looks like he’s casing cars out there. Which car is yours?

Without thinking, you rush to the window and point out your car for me.

YOU: I don’t see anyone out there.

ME: He must have moved out of sight behind those hedges. You can’t be too careful. Nice car. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

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

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

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes suspense, crime novels and has two guides to writing and publishing for sale. For his book links and to hear the All That Chazz podcasts, go to AllThatChazz.com. That would be so groovy.

Filed under: Books, My fiction, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#NaNoWriMo: And what if you don’t?

Free to you Nov. 26 – 30, 2012. If you love it, please review it. Thanks!

What happens if you aren’t a “winner” at National Novel Writing Month? The Mayan Apocalypse was set aside for you. The end is near and it’s going to be like that John Cusack movie, 2012, only longer, with burnt popcorn and more uncomfortable seats. 

Well, no, actually. NaNoWriMo isn’t another of those insipid chain letters that will kill you with a falling baby grand piano if you don’t complete it within the specified time. Fifty-thousand words and one month is an arbitrary deadline. It’s a fun and, I think, worthwhile challenge, but just because you didn’t make the quota — and there’s still time left, by the way — doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer. Mom still loves you, though she still prefers your brother Ted. Dad doesn’t think you’re any less unemployable (or more employable) than you were last month at about this time. You dog does not judge you…harshly. You still don’t take him out for enough walks, though. The status quo is preserved.

You’re certainly no farther behind than all those people who did make it to 50,000 words but will never look at their manuscript again. Their art is stillborn. Sadly, plenty of people who enter NaNoWriMo   have something worthy of publishing but will never know. The challenge, to them, was just a challenge, like how long can you go just eating pineapple and refried beans? Years from now they will sit in a dingy bar packed to the rafters with Rue and say, “Yeah, I wrote a novel once.” Before taking another long pull on a long neck, they’ll finish with a whisper, “…sort of.”

So what are you feeling so bad about? If you’re not going to make it to 50,000 words but you’re still reading this post, I bet you’re more serious than Mr. Sort Of. You’ve made it this far, looking for commiseration and a shoulder to cry on and all that. You don’t need a shoulder to cry on (and cleavage is better for that activity.) What you need is more time.

Many people don’t finish NaNoWriMo for great reasons. Stuff happens. Cats sit on your keyboard. Your sister called too many times at midnight to complain about her husband and how his new boyfriend leaves the toilet seat up. People get sick. Maybe you got tied up with work that actually pays. That’s important. Maybe you got sucked into a marathon of Hillybilly Hand Fish— okay, even my cheerleading efforts have limits. Shoot yourself.

I’m a cheerleader for anyone who writes to a daily word count, whether they are in NaNoWriMo or slogging through and constantly sweating a book out. Today I wrote a mere 1,900 words. I usually write close to three thousand a day. What’s galactically unjust is an author friend of mine reported that she just wrote over 4,000 words yesterday. (Pavarti! Dang it! That should have been me!) You see, my NaNoWriMo challenge is 365/24/7. You know books aren’t written in a month and you know this challenge is just a start. If you wrote enough so you have a good start on a novel, good for you. It can still be brilliant. Arbitrary is just so damned arbitrary, don’t you find?

Maybe you’re simply one of those tortured artists who take a little longer to write a masterpiece. If you’re a Canadian author, for instance, the government’s Royal Department of Vaunted Canlit requires that each book must take several years to write, with extra points awarded if you write about hard Arctic winters, houses made of sod and relentless, howling blizzards. To qualify, each revision must be completed in a birch bark canoe. If CBC Television scrapes any conflict out of your book and makes it into a movie (entirely in sepia tones with lots of bonnets or at least Labrador outports), you’re a serious Canlit contender. Congrats, you poor bastard. When Jian Ghomeshi interviews you on CBC Radio, answer in murmured Zen koans and only allow a small, smug smile, like you’re holding in a fart worthy of Margaret Atwood. There’s no money in being part of the Canadian literary establishment, so instead you get a trace of mystique among U of T English majors — wear a big hat and a long coat to readings — and the vague recognition that occasionally accompanies that ghostly, elusive thing that is “Canadian celebrity”.

Even if you aren’t Canadian, there are still great hurdles to overcome before you write your book and earn the respect of the literary establishment. First, you must never mention any connection between your Great American Novel and NaNoWriMo. Next, leather elbow patches are a must and always refer to the story as “the Text”. (Make sure they hear the capital T.) To really rock the foundations of letters and get Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut to step aside for a new, greater entry into The Great Works of Literature Hall of Fame (and Gas Bar), give that manuscript of yours another couple of weeks.

BONUS TIP: If you’re going to take a day off from writing anyway, avoid misery and decide that at the beginning of the day. If it flogs you all day and at bedtime you decide today’s not a day to write, you’ve paid a needless stress debt. There’s enough stress in the world without adding to it.

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

~ In addition to writing about publishing in Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your book: Aspire to Inspire, Robert Chazz Chute plots murder constantly, often in relation to fiction. His latest is a delightfully violent and occasionally sexy romp called Higher Than Jesus. He begs that you buy it and read it and review it because he has no shame anymore. Pride is a luxury bought with money. Sure, that last bit sounds like Jane Eyre, but those are his words! (This is also a  good time to admit that I, Chazz, am currently writing these words about myself in the third person. I’ve rarely loathed myself more deeply.) For more on books of suspense and nonsense by Chazz or to hear the free All That Chazz podcast, slum in his grimy little author site just off the Jersey turnpike in back of a dark bar with lipstick on the glasses, AllThatChazz.com. The glasses are all dirty mason jars and the bartender is a study in jailhouse tattoos.

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

Emma Stone movies & embracing cliches

We’re often told to avoid clichés like the plague.

That’s good advice, except when it’s not. 

I was thinking about clichés after seeing two Emma Stone movies in quick succession: Crazy Stupid Love and Easy A. I have to say, I enjoyed both films and they did one thing the same way: Namely, they called attention to rom-com and John Hughesian clichés and made fun of them. The screenwriter  pointed at them (some call this writing technique “hanging a lantern on it”) to let us know, proudly, we know this is cliché and we aren’t apologizing. It’s not dumb if you know what you’re doing.

In Crazy Stupid Love, Steve Carell gets into an argument that destroys him. As soon as it’s over, he’s left alone to sulk and it begins to rain in buckets. “How cliché,” he says. Wink!

Easy A is a witty story with smart people saying funny things (so it’s the opposite of reality TV.) Stanley Tucci and Emma Stone are father and daughter and, in wordplay, are the same smart, funny person. The jokes are often about clichés that the protagonist recognizes are worn out repetitions, but she longs for them anyway. She wants her life to be like an ’80s high school movie. (Is Emma Stone old enough to get the reference to John Cusack with a boom box outside the dream girl’s window in Say Anything?)

Easy A is fun because of the clichés. I haven’t enjoyed a high school movie this much since Ten Things I Hate About You, so all those hanging lanterns didn’t hurt the movie a bit.

It’s okay to use clichés as long as you do so consciously and cleverly. In a rom-com, the couple are going to get together in the end. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. A few self-deprecating nods to the demands of the form (mixed in with original surprises and charming characters we care about) can make a rom-com much less cloying than it might otherwise be.

When forced to succumb to cliché, you can use the opportunity for wry dialogue and a wink at your audience through the fourth wall. Do so clumsily and your second draft will have a bunch of strokes through the too familiar and the repetitious.

Filed under: movies, 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.

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

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