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

Write and publish with love and fury.

#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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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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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The foundation book of the Hit Man Series is available as an ebook and in paperback.

I’m in the middle of revisions on next my crime novel, so I’m grateful that the amazing Bridgette O’Hare suggested the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. As I creep closer to publishing Higher Than Jesus, she asked me ten questions about my Work in Progress. Ta-da!

What is the working title of your book? 

Higher Than Jesus (It’s pronounced “Hay-soose”. The “Higher” is a reference to drugs and thrills.) This is the second in The Hit Man Series. The foundation book was Bigger Than Jesus (released in June.) Five books are planned in the series so far. It’s a lot of fun, because stuff we thought we knew about Jesus Diaz from the first book go deeper. He has a darker past than I revealed the first time around and there are a lot of layers to his onion. The one thing you can count on with Jesus is that not much ever goes according to plan.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The main character began with a cool idea I had for a suspense story called “The Inevitable” which appeared in my first book, Self-help for Stoners. Our first glimpse of Jesus was as a Cuban hit man who helps out women going through ugly divorces. That’s actually a glimpse of Jesus in the future, as a more experienced, mature assassin.

What genre does your book fall under?

Suspense, thriller, action/adventure. Whichever category appeals to you more.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I picture Enrique Eglesias as Jesus right now, but I’ve thought John Leguizamo, too. For the role of Willow Clemont, I’d need a very tall blonde glamazon. I’m not sure which actress fits the bill best. I’m not up on my tall, blonde actresses. As for the role of Chilli Gillie (another recurring good guy character from my Poeticule Bay Stories) who shows up in Higher Than Jesus, it’s kind of a sore subject. I pictured Michael Clarke Duncan. Sadly, he just died of a heart attack. I note Chilli’s resemblance to Mr. Duncan several times in the book and now I’m debating about rewriting that aspect and how to do so.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In Higher Than Jesus, luckless hit man Jesus Diaz is on the run in Chicago when he takes up a mission to free himself and his girlfriend from addiction to Vicodin and to thwart the evil plans of a group of gun running white supremacists.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m published by Ex Parte Press. This is the one company that cares most about my book. It’s my company.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft was a month or two. I write fast. Then the long editorial tail kicks in. That has more people involved, and so, more variables.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The pace of Blake Crouch’s Run had a big impact on me as well as an old book by William Goldman called Edged Weapons. I like a book that skips along at a fast clip with lots of chuckles and clever surprises. I should also add that fans of Bigger Than influenced Higher Than quite a bit. Everyone commented on how funny Bigger Than Jesus was in unexpected ways. From what fans said, I decided that I needed to keep the pacing and reversals of the first book, but to always look for the humor in situations that aren’t all that funny. That’s what I do on and off the clock, anyway. I think finding the cosmic joke is what we all have to do to get through every day.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have a dopamine addiction, so I’m compelled to write. I was born this way. Why write this book in particular? I read a lot, but I’m having a hard time finding this sort of book. Humorous books don’t tend to have a lot of action. Books with a lot of action often fall short on humor. I love snappy dialogue, so I probably owe more of an inspirational debt to the Coen brothers’ movies and Quentin Tarantino movies. If you can’t find the book you want to read, you have to write it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s a lot in there that provides deep context and verisimilitude for the plot, like some controversial observations about talk therapy, PTSD and drug addiction. My wife is a psychologist and I had to warn her that Jesus comes down hard on talk therapy, but it’s mental stimulation I’m dealing out. I’m not presenting Truth with a capital T, but an opinion from a guy who has serious problems, like killing people for a living.

Also, as a former military policeman, Jesus uses some clever surveillance tactics, skip tracer ruses and knowledge about IEDs that are all drawn from real life. Between research and some things I picked up from experts, the story yields some fun, interesting details and new twists that will amaze. Promise.

Who’s up next in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop? Look for more posts next Wednesday from:

The always-encouraging Jo Michaels, the lovely Jordanna East, the historically mysterious Laura Seeber, lover of all things just Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy and the ever-enthusiastic Ronald Fischman.

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Amazon: My last stab

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS, FREE ON AMAZON TODAY, TOMORROW AND FRIDAY

Free promotions sure aren’t what they used to be. Last December, with Amazon’s old algorithm, friends of mine made big money. Success on the free list actually translated to success on the paid list. Then everything changed and many of us have been slow to react, me included. I notice that, among my writer friends, many (most?) are selling their books on KDP Select exclusively, five free days and all, for the first three months and then they aren’t renewing with KDP. They’ll continue to sell on Amazon, but there are plenty of other places to sell besides Amazon. After that first three months of trying to take advantage of the Amazon advantage, they put their work up everywhere else, too. That’s what I’m doing with the foundation book of my crime novel series, Bigger Than Jesus.

BY THE WAY: 

Bigger Than Jesus is available for free in ebook form

until Friday, and then that’s it.

As The Hit Man Series continues, I don’t know if I’ll go exclusive at all, even for those first three months. The math just doesn’t seem to add up to a marketing strategy that’s advantageous. In truth, it hasn’t been helpful to many indie authors for some time. I stuck with it because of the timing as my previous books launched. I have three books to release before Christmas and the eggs won’t be going into one basket anymore.

Someone asked me recently, “What’s the latest success strategy for indie authors?” I encountered some resistance when I replied, “There isn’t one.” We’ve had the publicists, advertising, press releases, blogging, podcasting, Twitter (and various  derivative Twitter strategies), Facebook, Pinterest (maybe?), the 99 cent strategy, blog tours, free, Goodreads, book bloggers, etc,…. Some combination of these elements may work for someone. Though they’ve all been effective for someone individually in the past, no one strategy seems to deliver a knock-out punch. When I say there isn’t one, I don’t rule out the possibility of their effectiveness in the plural, if you have the time to do all that. (You don’t. Go write instead.) 

Which brings up the question: Will Amazon change its algorithm again so it makes sense for us to stay exclusive with KDP Select? Who knows? Amazon’s algorithms and their rationale may be deduced, but are never made explicit. That information is solely on a need-to-know basis. (Apparently, we don’t need to know.)

Amazon is good at what they do — or has been — but it’s unreasonable to expect they’ll be right all the time, even with their vast resources. More to the point, Amazon’s looking out for Amazon, not me. My evidence is they aren’t making the exclusivity clause worth it for a lot of authors (even the true believers who, in the past, made a lot of dough.) I’m losing sales on other devices because I’m not selling enough with KDP. The Amazon sales don’t make up for lost sales elsewhere. Listening to my writer buddies, it’s clear I’m not alone in that assessment.

This is a business decision and has nothing to do with damning Amazon. I’m not one of the haters whining about monopolies and painting Amazon as a bully. The market is a competition and Amazon is on top because they made a lot of great decisions early on. However, I’m not looking for a new mom to take care of me, either. Being indie doesn’t mean supplanting one boss with a new boss just because it’s easy to go on inertia and formatting anew is a pain in the ass. Next month, as soon as my three months are up, Bigger Than Jesus will be available more widely (Hello Kobo, Nook, Sony, your smart phone, your iPhone, your iPad…maybe even your toaster.)

As for book marketing’s next knock out punch? People will tell you they know what the next big thing is. Some will even try to sell you books based on giving away one ultimate secret of indie author success. I think those people are often well-intentioned and they give out a lot of good information. I’ve read a bunch about marketing ebooks lately and, frankly, I’m also skeptical about some of those easy, plug-and-play answers.

Only one strategy I know of seems like anything close to a sure thing and (WARNING!) it’s a slow, steady grind. It’s not a popular idea because it’s not easy and quick. 

Write more books.

(Do a great job!)

Put them up.

(Do what promotion you can that doesn’t interfere with your writing schedule.)

Write more books.

(Make sure they are wonderful.)

I aspire to inspire, but as for marketing? Hm. Sorry.

“Write more books” is honestly all I’ve got in stock at the moment.

I’ve said it before and it’s still all I have to say on that subject.

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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.

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