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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Writers: Who influences you?


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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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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Ultimate Blog Challenge: Risk more

There’s a scene in the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Parisin which Owen Wilson’s character meets Salvador Dali. I’m a fan of

Woody Allen

Woody Allen (Photo credit: ThomasThomas)

Dali and Adrien Brody makes him weird and charming and, at that moment, obsessed with rhinos. After meeting Dali, Wilson’s writer character (an undisguised Woody Allen surrogate) starts to think that he needs to let his imagination off the leash and be more creative with his writing. I do wish more writers took chances and drew outside the lines.

Experimental fiction has a bit of a bad rep and sometimes for good reasons. It also gets a bad rep for bad reasons and the big bad reason is the author’s fear. Too often we hear that readers want to be made “comfortable” with a story. Agents and editors want “the same thing only different” from the successful authors they happen upon. You can write a competent mystery, thriller, romance — whatever your flavor — but I don’t think you can do anything great if you don’t stretch at least a little bit. Playing it safe means going with the tried and true. There’s plenty of that already.

The reader and writer in me is screaming, “No!”

A writer wants to do something more, different and great. A reader wants to feel like they are in confident, competent hands so they won’t invest a lot of time in a book and three-quarters of the way through discover the story has gone off the rails. Take your risks but make it plausible within the context of the book. I’ve just put a book down because an author made a choice that was implausible and annoying. For the first chunk of the book, we understand we are dealing with astronauts just back from Mars. After the three-year mission is over, they discover that one of said astronauts isn’t what he appears to be. He’s an astronaut impersonator. Really? Maybe that would work for some people, but it didn’t work for me and I put the book down, possibly never to pick it up again. I’ve got a lot to read. Life’s too short to waste on books that don’t work for me. If the author had made the astronaut impersonator the guy who messed up more, the conceit might have worked. Instead, the non-astronaut is the ultimate astronaut. Yeah, right. Got a brain tumour? Hand the scalpel to the brilliant amateur because he’s read some books and has a fresh take on this whole “surgery” thing. Ugh.

Please do take risks with your stories.

Go to unexpected places and surprise me.

Make me believe

(because I really want to believe.)

Midnight in Paris isn’t a great movie, but there is something very appealing about a cadre of artists in Paris in the ’20s who interact with each other, bounce ideas off each other and critique and encourage each other to reach beyond the norm. Too many people were living lives of quiet desperation (like now) while Hemingway or Gertrude Stein asserted themselves and their art as an important value, not a frivolous hobby. I don’t care for Stein’s writing at all and I prefer Hemingway’s short stories, but how noble to be so invested in art for art’s sake! Are we still invested in art or is our attention too fractured? Is there an equivalent to Paris in the ’20s now? Or have we devolved in our expectations of the value of art so much that we melt into the lowest common denominator of art critic: a mewling pack of trolling eunuchs at the harem with nothing to offer but barely literate, troglodytic snipe and snark in one-star book reviews?

Midnight in Paris succeeds only so much as nostalgia for an ex-pat community of artists in the 1920s succeeds, but I do love elevating art. When two hoods in an Elmore Leonard novel or a Quentin Tarantino movie or a Guy Ritchie film have conversations that you don’t expect, that’s a writer taking a risk to bring us more beyond the usual schtick and making it work. That’s “a Royal with Cheese.” That’s “Leave the guns, take the cannolis.”

Smack your reader with something they don’t expect.

Make them love you anyway.

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AB Challenge 22: John Leguizamo, I know you’re reading this. Call me.

Leguizamo outside the Broadway production of A...

Leguizamo outside the Broadway production of American Buffalo, November 21, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s writing prompt: If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of Roger Ebert’s review of your film.

For my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, Martin Scorcese or Quentin Tarantino would be my first thought for directors.

For the Jesus Diaz, the Cuban hit man who wants out of the mob, could be played by the great John Leguizamo.

Eva Mendes comes to mind first to play the lovely Lily Vasquez, the most gorgeous woman in New York and the object of Jesus’s worship.

For Big Denny De Molina, Jesus’s best friend and biggest obstacle? Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson would be perfect, especially if he’s willing to keep the biceps but add a bit of a fat suit.

Jimmy Lima, the dangerous underboss? Jimmy Smits, of course! After his tour on Dexter, I can think of no one better for that role. Andy Garcia would be great, too.

Uma Thurman would be great as Barbara, Jimmy Lima’s wife. (Shades of an overlap with Pulp Fiction there.)

Harv and Marv, the twins with tattoos on their necks? Michael Fassbender or Ryan Gosling. (This one’s for you, ladies! Times two.)

Panama Bob is the other underboss who has skimmed a fortune in mob money (that Jesus needs to escape). I’m thinking a bold casting choice: Zach Galifianakis going against type.

For Vincent, the godfather of the piece, I’d take Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who plays The Most Interesting Man in the World in the Dos Equis commercials.

My cousin David Strauss as the FBI agent. My other cousin is the actor and jazz singer Amy Hack. She’d be great singing a torch song in a bar.

As for the hypothetical Ebert review: I don’t have enough thumbs to point up! Run, don’t walk, to the nearest theatre to enjoy the best mob movie in ages. Jesus Diaz, played by John Leguizamo in his best role yet, is a clever hit man who wants to escape New York with stolen mafia money and his girlfriend, Lily Vasquez. In a darkly humorous trip full of witty dialogue and fast-paced action that will leave you breathless, it’s the unexpected twists and reversals you can’t see coming that elevate this to a movie you’ll want to see again and again. It’s so good, you’ll even want to buy the book by Robert Chazz Chute, too!


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Bestseller with over 1,000 reviews!
Winner of the North Street Book Prize, Reader's Favorite, the
Literary Titan Award, the Hollywood Book Festival, and the
New York Book Festival.


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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