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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: Who influences you?

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FYI: Grab your free dark fantasy and a free crime novel here. The Haunting Lessons is free today and tomorrow only!


Everything that has ever happened to us goes into our books. Every slight and terrible vengeance, real or imagined, gets poured in. Here are some of my influences:

1. During a podcast, the guest talked about the Hagakure, the book of the Samurai. It had been a long time since I’d read it, but as soon as he mentioned it, I knew I had an empty place for that puzzle piece in the next book in the Ghosts & Demons Series.

2. When John Cleese was a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jon mentioned the Choir Invisible. Besides being a funny sketch and a great poem, the reference set off fireworks in my mind. The Choir Invisible became a complex secret society that fights evil in The Haunting Lessons. (We don’t read enough poetry anymore, by the way. Lyricism seeps into our writing when we drink enough of it.)

3. William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride (among many other wonderful novels and screenplays) always catches the reader by surprise. When you are sure what is going to happen next? That’s when he’s got you. I love that. I do that. It makes plot development a joy and dares you to stop turning pages, even when it’s late and you have to be at work early in the morning.

4. I studied The Divine Comedy in school. When you’re writing about demons and the fight between good and evil (or bad and evil), a quote from the classics slipped into the narrative makes for a big moment that adds to the depth of the atmosphere I want to achieve in a key scene.

5. I loved the action in Mickey Spillane novels. Film is definitely in the mix, as well. When I’m writing the Hit Man Series, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen brothers and Guy Ritchie are never far away.

6. Stephen King’s structural devices from The Stand and It went into This Plague of Days. Chuck Palahniuk’s appreciation for the macabre is in all the horror. Contextualizing the bizarre with the weird and real is a lesson learned from The X Files.

7. As a disappointed humanist, I want to be Kurt Vonnegut. Not the writer per se, but the man. If I ever release my time travel novel, he’s in the mix in a big way. I miss him.

8. When I’m writing action and suspense, Skrillex, Eminem and Everlast are playing in the background. Visceral goes with viscera. A steady diet of standup comedy balances out the blood. The path between horror and humor can be a knife edge. 

9. Fight scenes and sex scenes: draw on experience and each variety of conquering and surrender is all the more delicious.

10. Director Kevin Smith and comic Joe Rogan inspired me to write my first book, Self-help for Stoners. Chasing that dream long into the night continues to keep me going in the face of adversity.

I write original books (if it can be said there is such a thing.) However, we all have our artistic ancestry. What’s yours? What do you recommend?

~ FYI, one more time: The Haunting Lessons is free today and tomorrow and my first crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, is also free everywhere. Hit AllThatChazz.com now for the links.

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AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!: My Night with Obama

I had all the answers.

President Obama was visiting my parents. I was a kid, maybe fourteen, living on a Kennedyesque estate (but without the accent). I somehow convinced the president I knew what to do. I called in emergency help.

Two jets and two helicopters later, the team arrived.

1. Rachel Maddow appeared in the doorway, confused that she’d been called to the Hamptons for a secret meeting with the president. I told her to explain her genius idea to the president. All the Republican candidates took TARP funds for their states and took credit for creating jobs while condemning the same funding. Spending is frozen, but as Miss Maddow explained, they still want to fund their pet projects to create jobs by fixing bridges and highways. “So say yes.” Maddow said. “Michelle Bachmann is first in line. She wants a bridge fixed. Say yes, Mr. Obama. Say yes to all of them. The USA needs infrastructure, so say yes. They won’t say no to that. They already asked. We have the documentation. Rebuild America like Truman did.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I got a guy coming who will make sure the Republicans don’t steal the credit. But first, have you met Mr. Maher?”

2. The secret Service ushered in Bill Maher, stoned, flanked by two models. “We had to take him by force, even after we explained who was asking,” a big Secret Service agent shrugged.

“Mr. Maher, we need your patriotism. You said, ‘The problem is we have one party with no brains and one party with no balls.’ Mr. Obama needs a life coach. Be the balls, Mr. Maher. Be the Cheney, but with a heart in your chest instead of The Pulsing Stone of Pure Evil. We need a Cheney in the administration, but with blood instead of bile. Your country needs you.”

Mr. Maher refused immediately, of course.

I looked over to Mr. Obama. He nodded.

“He’ll legalize it,” I said.

For the cause, Bill agreed to help, with the proviso that he could handle all the renegotiation on his own (and that clouds of marijuana smoke would be pumped into Congress during all debates.)

“New Rule!” Maher said. “No more golf with Boehner! You sit with him in a room with the doors locked, don’t let him have any cigarettes or booze and nobody gets to go to the bathroom until we fix the country because the bathroom is for closers! And Mr. President? You’ll be wearing Depends.”

3. Jon Stewart walked in chewing a bagel and cracking up the Secret Service. He had the air of a guy who always knew it would come to this and it was about fucking time he was called in.

“Mr. Stewart, Rachel’s the brains, Bill’s the muscle. You’re the mouth. We need a press secretary who can effectively mock stupid ideas. Do what you do. Get the Democrat’s message out there. And destroy from the podium like you’re on stage at the Comedy Store on a Saturday night. When the press tries to say ‘On the one hand, on the other,’ mock them until they cry. Shame them until they admit crazy ideas are crazy and the truth isn’t always in the middle. Bring along John Oliver, too, if you want. He’s fun.”

Stewart replied by doing a spit take and rubbing hits eyes in exaggerated comedic gestures as if he was Buster Keaton in a silent film. Stewart made that work and even the president allowed himself a grim smile.

4. I turned to Mr. Obama. “With respect, sir, you’ve got to stop showing so much respect. We know your internal monologue is, ‘I can’t believe I have to put up with this shit.’ Bill’s going to show you it’s okay to say that. In fact, people will love you for it. All the stuff you don’t say? That’s what he’s going to show you how to do. Be a more of a dick.”

Mr. Maher shrugged his agreement. “Call them on their shit. That’s my whole career, actually.”

“In fact,” I said, “I suggest we get the president a copy of the pussy/asshole/dick speech at the end of Team America: World Police.”

5. Next: While we waited for the last guest, I had more suggestions. “US forces are in 150 countries and they are all coming home. You know those YouTube videos where everybody gets choked up when soldiers show up and the family rushes in and hugs them so glad they’re alive? For the next month, there’s not going to be a dry eye in America. Everybody comes home and the military does two things: A. Help with natural disasters and build new bases in New Orleans and Detroit to revivify. B. Defend the borders. With everybody home, it’s going to be safer than Switzerland. From now on, you’re going to handle anti-terrorist strikes the same way you got Bin Laden. In and out and nobody stays. The United States is the only war-ravaged country where America needs to do  nation-building.”

6. Next: “Close tax loopholes and tax the rich. When the Tea Party and the Republicans cry foul, tell them the rich aren’t just “job creators” with untaxed private jets. They are patriots and patriots pay taxes. Mere Clinton era taxation will cut the deficit in half, not just shave it back over many years. When they whine about it, question their patriotism. When they keep whining, call them weak. When they say you’re a tax-and-spend Democrat, tell them you’re a tax-and-save-the-middle-class Democrat. And raise the debt ceiling with the constitution, not negotiation. When they complain about that, tell them you’re saving the country.

7. When you get flack for all that, pull a George Bush. “Tell them God told you to do it,” I said. “Mr. Stewart will handle burying them in ‘What would Jesus do?’ jokes while making funny faces and doing his Italian mob guy accent. Make sure to say it was the Christian God to head off Fox News. God trumps all objections. Really surprised you kept that in your holster this long, sir.”

8. One last thing. Doctor Brown? An old man with wild, white hair and a lab coat entered. Mr. Obama stood, looking at him curiously. His jaw dropped. “Is that?”

“Yes, sir. A fiction based in reality,” I said.

The old man extended his hand and gave a craggy smile. “Just call me ‘Doc’. Marty and I have rebuilt the DeLorean. It’s parked out back by the pool. We’re going back in time to get you a new policy assistant. The assistant will work with you and Mr. Maher to get some things done, like really shutting down Gitmo. Stuff like that.”

Mr. Obama’s eyes widened. “You mean?”

“That’s right!” Doc Brown explained. “We’re going back to 2007 to pick up the Hope and Change Obama to bring him BACK TO THE FUTURE!”

I woke up.

And waking up was disappointing. I didn’t have the solution after all.

Filed under: Rant, , , , , ,

Josh Leib: Author of I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President

Yes, I’ve read this book. I love it and my kids love it.

It speaks to my inner monologue throughout elementary school.

And high school.

And university.

And now.

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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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