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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

The Best Thing To Do Tonight

You could go out dancing and drinking on a Saturday night, but let’s face it, no good can come of that. Instead, join me. I’m doing a Facebook takeover of a SF & Fantasy group tonight from 5:30 PM – 10 PM EST.

The group is called Destiny’s Lighters.

Find it at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lytonians/.

I’ll be posting eight mini blog posts about how I learned to write and give some book recommendations. Aside from some shameless self-promotion, I’ll give a free book to a lucky random commenter.

If you want to join in to ask questions (or find out what I think is wrong about a lot of apocalyptic fiction), let me know and I’ll shoot you an invite.

You’ll find my FB page at https://www.facebook.com/robert.c.chute/.

In Other News:

Literary Titan gave Endemic an interesting review. Read between the lines and you’ll figure out what they weren’t so crazy about. You’ll find the link on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.



mybook.to/MakeEndemicGoViral

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All of Us Are Wondering

The pandemic has altered our perceptions of what makes society’s gears turn. At their wit’s end, many people are exhausted of the fight against COVID-19. Not all changes are bad. I think the Great Resignation is a hopeful indicator that we’ll see more activism by labor in the future. However, the pandemic has also laid bare ignorance and institutional vulnerabilities. Watching the occupation of Ottawa, multiple failures have given birth to something ugly in the zeitgeist. I guess that ugly subtext was always there, but now that it’s out in the open, I wonder how these grotesqueries will change what we create in the next few years.

In my 20s, a friend often called me Mr. Cynical. After witnessing how a large contingent prizes convenience over the safety of others, I wasn’t cynical enough. A friend once insisted that people would come together in an emergency. Most will answer that call, sure. Others are too selfish to protect the vulnerable. I was cynical, but I did have higher hopes for us. George Carlin nailed it when he said, “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”

What does this mean for writers and readers now?


I have a new book out, and like Endemic, the world at large has influenced my writing.

Our Alien Hours is about how humans react to the arrival of interstellar conquistadors. My editor made an interesting comment. “This is an unusual move for you. It doesn’t offer sunshine and lollipops.” She has a point. I always offer a bit of hope at the end of the journey and there are usually lots of jokes in the mix of action, suspense, and adventure. Always, that is, until Our Alien Hours. Offering too rosy a vision of alien invaders didn’t ring true to the scenario I posed. Resisting attackers who have the technology to cross the galaxy sounded so optimistic it was silly. Getting grim made more sense in this case. It’s that feeling you get when you watch the Korean sensation, All of Us Are Dead: Oh, no! Not her, too!

(Hint: The first episode of All of Us Are Dead is a hurdle, but after that, the series really picks up. They take the zombie genre in unusual directions that will be familiar to lovers of This Plague of Days and AFTER Life. I gotta love that.)

You’ve seen the memes. Does future lit have to be dumber?

“Zombie books of the future must have a scene where people run toward the zombies to get bit as they proclaim it’s all a hoax.” And, “We owe horror movie writers an apology. When the killer is breaking down the front door, a certain percentage of victims will definitely run upstairs instead of out the back door.” Heck, the human inclination to wish our problems away is the whole point of the Oscar-nominated Don’t Look Up! Given all we’ve seen, it’s hard to shake the feeling that plenty of idiots are in charge, or at least our leaders are willing to cave to the mob’s whims.

We want our fiction to ring true, but when there’s no one to cheer for, I’m out. I just don’t care for that at all. As writers, we’re going to have to strike a balance even as we endeavor to provide authenticity and a context of verisimilitude.

Here’s how one franchise failed in my estimation:

I find The Walking Dead‘s tone so relentlessly grim that survival seems pointless. I abandoned watching it because it seemed like so much rinse and repeat. It left me wondering why the survivors were fighting so hard to live since doing so seemed so joyless. There is a follow-up to TWD. It’s basically, TWD, The Next Generation. I couldn’t detect any fun to be had in that enterprise, either.

Train to Busan is brilliant, and the staging makes for an awe-inspiring film. However, if you stretched it over eleven seasons like TWD, it would surely wear out its welcome, too.

What are our options as writers?

Well, we could give in to despair, steer into the skid, and admit that the inspiring utopian Star Trek future we dreamed is beyond our reach. I don’t think that’s the way to go, though. Of course, in horror, readers demand the icy finger of grim reality delivering shivers down their spines. Those readers aren’t looking for Margaret Atwood-level character development from the villain. The maniac who dips his victims in hot wax isn’t that complex or worth knowing beyond a gesture toward a bad childhood. We’re in the entertainment business and that market wants to know how the victims react. Horror villains from Jason to zombies to vampires are rarely real characters. Instead, they usually represent Mortality itself as a force of nature. The entertainment value is measured differently in that genre. We don’t need to know the complexities behind the killer clown in It. We resonate with the kids he drags into the sewers.

Note to all fiction writers about educating readers versus entertaining them! Please, whatever you write, set out to entertain first. If your primary goal at the keyboard is to educate, stick to writing textbooks. Thanks!

Now, where were we?

Next option:

Balance out the horrors of grim reality with happy escapism. Write more romances where quirky people somehow get married to their frenemy accidentally. Ooh, the storm is here, the bridge is out, and golly gee! This romantic little B&B only has one room left and look at that queen-size bed! Romance has always been the most reliable powerhouse of genres. To get us past the pandemic so we finally arrive intact in the New Roaring ’20s, writing fiction that looks the other way is a sure bet. A hundred years from now, if there are any historians left, they won’t be combing old romances for clues to how we dealt with COVID-19. And that’s a good thing. I’m all for getting your comfort wherever you can find it.

Don’t forget hopepunk. It’s not a big genre, probably because it is so difficult to execute with authenticity. Go this way and who knows? To counter the difficulties of the pandemic, it could be the genre that explodes in the next couple of years.

Or, we could reflect reality.

Remember The War of the Worlds, the Tom Cruise movie from 2005? It’s an alien invasion story, but it’s really about how war affects refugees. Both the film and the book explore our foibles, failures, and vulnerabilities. Survival is the goal, but the journey rotates around heroism, family, commitment, and communication.

In Our Alien Hours, I didn’t look away from doom. The book is about communicating the experience of facing death and danger. Heroes and fools both make interesting choices. The phrase “the human condition” has always sounded empty to me, but after writing Our Alien Hours, that’s not true anymore. The outcome may sound grim, but the trip offers noble and true moments as we face mortality together.

My next book will offer more hope for the human race, but it won’t get there dishonestly. Salvation must be earned. I hope by the time I publish my next book, we’ll be at the other end of this pandemic. We have a long way to go yet.

~ Our Alien Hours just launched. For a gritty but not gory alien invasion, you can pick it up here.

For links to all my books, head over to my author page at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: pandemic, writing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

They’re going to kill us

AFTER Life INFERNO

is free today and tomorrow

AFTER was a medical miracle. Researchers weaponized it.

Deep in an underground vault, the weapon is waiting.

It wants out.

The Two Ways Series Fiction Can Go

Back when I was co-hosting the Self-publishing Roundtable (RIP), one of our guests was the amazing Wayne Stinnett. Wayne writes compelling page turners set in Florida. He had some interesting advice: In an episodic series, don’t raise the stakes. The adventure happens. The hero saves the day. Next book: new adventure.

Think of it like James Bond movies. Bond goes out, saves the world and comes back to save the world in the next movie. He’s eternal and unchanging. To my mind, the failing of the more recent movies with Daniel Craig is the focus on his age. In the first movie, he’s a terminator bursting through walls and new to the 007 license to kill. In the next, his superiors are ready to put him out to pasture.

In the movies, directors did the same to the original crew of the Enterprise. “Spock, am I too old for this shit?” As a fan I say this sincerely, we didn’t want to hear all that. In a perfect galaxy, Spock and Kirk are still out there saving us again and again. Kirk’s space karate is still strong and no one worries about arthritis. 

Wayne’s not wrong about the benefits of an unchanging protag whose focus is gunshoeing rather than saving the world once and then moving to Arizona to raise Alpacas. Sam Spade and Nero Wolfe never retired, either.

(For more of his excellent advice, check out Wayne’s non-fiction book, Blue Collar to No Collar: From Trucker to Bestselling Novelist in Two Years.)

That said, there is another way to go. Just know that some reviewers will kill you for it. 

In most of my series, I failed to take Wayne’s excellent advice. I raise the stakes. Stuff that happens in the first book has a big impact later on. Story arcs are long. Not everybody is going to like that. Not every casual reader has the patience to get a big pay off in Book 3 whose seeds were planted in Book 1. Alas, that’s usually what I’ve got for readers. I certainly provide thrills and jokes along the way, but the world-saving stakes are often built across multiple books.

I ran across a book blogger who didn’t like Tamara Smythe in Haunting Lessons. In the foundation book of the Dimension War series, Tam was an ordinary and innocent girl in her senior year in high school when she lost her high school sweetheart to the Grim Reaper. That’s how she found out she wasn’t ordinary. She can see ghosts and gets institutionalized for it. As her story develops over three books, she learns that our world has been invaded by interdimensional beings bent on our destruction. Tamara becomes a warrior on our side with blessed weapons and holy bullets. The blogger in question didn’t like it. She wanted Tam to be a badass warrior woman from the first page.

Okay, cool. There are lots of books like that and good for them. That wasn’t our story so my co-author and I didn’t write it that way. Across three books, we were able to tell a story with a bigger scope. And we got to enjoy training montages! People love training montages. From Rocky to the Karate Kid, that’s what makes up the bulk of those movies: learning, growing, changing, building up to kicking ass on a grand scale.

Another example, This Plague of Days definitely raises the stakes. The clues are there, but it’s a slow burn. First, we watch civilization fall. Through the lens of a mute boy on the spectrum, it starts out as a zombie apocalypse without a ton of zombies. As the action rises across the trilogy, the world-building is ambitious and many elements grow and change. New species develop. The Big Bad in Book 1 may seem over the top, but in Book 3, it is revealed why she does what she does and it’s a real kick in the brain pan. I could not deliver those twists within the confines of one book (unless that one book is the big honkin’ omnibus).

In AFTER Life, we follow a Toronto cop, Dan Harmon, into the depths of a weapons research lab. In the rest of the trilogy, he shares the spotlight with Dr. Chloe Robinson as they battle nanotech-powered brain parasites and sentient zombies bent on world domination. Surprising twists emerge that no one reading the first book could have foreseen.

My crime thrillers are a tad more episodic in nature. Jesus Diaz is the funny anti-hero who isn’t quite as good at being a hitman as he thinks he is. He doesn’t change much as a person. Kind of a slow learner. Even so, he messed with the FBI in Bigger Than Jesus. That doesn’t get forgotten just because he’s in a new city in Higher Than Jesus or Hollywood Jesus

Caveat: 

Writing more episodically, some readers may accuse you of “taking the easy way out” and writing the same book over and over. In most cases, they’re dead wrong. I have heard of an author who keeps the same plot and just changes the names and places. That’s not the norm. Conscientious writers publishing episodic series put a lot of effort into their books and aren’t out to provide any less of a thrill to their readers. I don’t think many authors go to the trouble of writing entire series with the goal of short-changing anyone. Sure, there are grifters, but most of us think we’re artistes, dadgummit!

But! And this is a big ole hairy day-glo orange monkey butt:

Many successful series are based on the episodic model and their fans love it. A lot of readers won’t give you a chance after the first book. Tons of readers want “the same thing, only different.” Just like Bond and the original Star Trek crew, the familiar is comforting. Many readers read for comfort. Books in series, particularly long series, tend to make more money.
If writing and eating is your goal, this is the way to bet.

One more time for the doubters in the back: If you want to make more money and catch more readers, refusing to raise the stakes and build castles in the sky might be a safer, more lucrative choice. 

If I had to do it all again, I tell myself I’d write under more pen names and make sure the branding of all my covers was entirely consistent. If I had to do it all again, I tell myself I’d write solely in long series instead of standalones and shorter series that continually raise the stakes until my protagonists are out to save the world instead of themselves. I should have been more strategic and planned series that power on for 27 iterations and go deep on one genre.

I tell myself these things, but I know I’m lying to myself. I don’t write that way, but I probably should have. Shrug. I’d take a lot of really good advice, if only I were an entirely different person.

~ Pick up your complimentary ebook of AFTER Life Inferno today or tomorrow. It’s a quick, breezy read that will get your blood pumping. (Lock the door, too. You’ll feel safer.)

For a look at all my thrill rides, check out my author site, AllThatChazz.com and, while you browse, hit the subscribe button.

AFTER Life is a fast-paced trilogy featuring flawed people, sentient zombies, and brain parasites with aspirations to take over the world. From a task force officer filled with regrets to a nanotech researcher charged with saving the world, the story arc is full of action and twists. The ending will surprise you.

The ebook for Inferno is free today and tomorrow to download at your Amazon store.

Filed under: writing advice, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back from the brink, here’s the latest

I’ve been out of commission for quite some time. In March, I had the flu. That was followed by a nasty bout of pneumonia. I felt terrible and my energy was gone. I’m only just beginning to feel better now and starting to work on getting my stamina back.

Amid Mortal Words - High ResolutionWith the help of my excellent editor (Gari Strawn of strawnediting.com) and my beta reader (thanks, Russ!) I managed to get my latest book published only a couple of weeks behind schedule.

Amid Mortal Words is a sci-fi action thriller that asks the question, if you could eliminate all the people who make the world worse, would you? How much collateral damage would be okay with you? Throw in a mysterious stranger on a train, one deadly book and a trip to NORAD’s missile command and you’ve got a binge read waiting for you.

At the beginning of 2019, I had not planned on writing this Amid Mortal Words. I published The Night Man and expected

THE NIGHT MAN COVERto spend the rest of the year revising several books that had been patiently waiting for me to get to them. Revising and publishing were what this year was supposed to be about. However, the plot to Amid Mortal Words kept waking me up at four in the morning. I’ve never had a book so insistent on being written. Getting it out of my head and on the page was the only way to get some sleep. Now that it’s done, I’m working on Amazon ads, revisions and getting back to a normal life. I’m so glad I write full-time now. I don’t know how I could have accommodated this much illness if I had a regular job.

I’m getting back to blogging, as well. Check out four of my latest posts on my author site at AllThatChazz.com:

  1. My Top 10 List of Books. These are my all-time favorites from back in the day.
  2. Story Tensions. These are the underlying themes of 15 of my books (#14 is the exception.
  3. What I’ve Learned (and something I haven’t). Decades of mistakes summed up in one short post.
  4. The War is Here. Where do ideas for my fiction come from? From the chaos we’re living in now.

Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you’re healthy or at least that your self-care is pointing you in the right direction. Better health, fun writing and grinding, sanding and polishing revisions are what I’m working on.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Best known for This Plague of Days, I write killer crime thrillers and epic apocalyptic adventures. Find links to all my horror, science fiction and suspense at AllThatChazz.com.

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, , , , , ,

Facebook Live and All That Chazz Updates

I blog regularly over at my author site AllThatChazz.com.

Here’s the latest:

Were Old SF Movies Better?

I list some old school science fiction you need to see if you haven’t already.

Review: Can’t Hurt Me

New self-published author David Goggins was offered a big book deal. Instead of going with trad publishing, he consulted Tucker Max and put out a book that’s wildly successful. I had some mixed feeling about some of the book (as you’ll read in my review) but overall? I got some important ideas out of it and it is a compelling read. 4 stars.

Facebook Live Announcement

Wednesday night, Jan. 30, I’m hitting up Facebook Live at 8 p.m. EST. See you tonight!

I just got over a major medical scare. It turned out to be nothing to worry about and all’s well. Still, I have some tidbits to share that are both funny and interesting. It’s an Ask Me Anything Night, too, so if you have a question, let me know on the live feed.

Here’s my Facebook link.

Jump into the chat to let me know you’re there and where you’re coming from in this great frozen world. Talk soon!

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes suspenseful books about the apocalypse, killer crime thrillers and science fiction. Check out all his books at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing, Science Fiction, , , , , , ,

Your Useful Saturday Updates

all empires fall cover #2

All Empires Fall: New Cover Reveal

I changed the cover on this SF anthology. This post tells why.

I love this collection. You will, too. You can get it for free on Amazon tomorrow (Sunday, January 20.)

BookBub Release Announcement

Are your books listed on BookBub? When you gain followers there, BB can help you gain traction and awareness. Also, this service doesn’t cost authors a thing.

After I released The Night Man recently, BookBub contacted me with this reminder:

THE-NIGHT-MAN-COVER.jpg

 

“Ask other authors to recommend your new release on BookBub! Their recommendations will reach all their US BookBub followers, increasing your visibility and helping you reach new fans.”

Claim your BookBub author profile here.

Feel free to recommend The Night Man to your BB followers! Thanks!

 

Do You Feel Trapped Sometimes?

Times are tough but escapist fiction can still reflect reality. Many of us feel trapped financially and that’s the case with my characters in The Night Man. Medical bankruptcy is the trigger that gets all the other triggers pulled in the story.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute, a suspense writer. If you want to inject some fuel in my fiction engine, pop over to my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: All That Chazz, Books, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Polls and questions: Why do you write what you write?

 

Today, I’m revising my novel This Plague of Days: a family’s world comes apart as a plague spreads across North America. As seen through the eyes of a sweet autistic boy, they must head east to survive, hoping for a haven in Poeticule Bay, Maine. There will be loss and drama and raiders and sacrifices and a very long walk. Some will be saved. Others are already beyond hope.

I especially enjoy my coffee and creature comforts when I write of a world without the cozy and the familiar. Perhaps that’s the pull of dystopian lit. We enjoy drama’s bad news because it’s an escape from our everyday, less dramatic bad news.

That’s just my theory.

What about you? Why do you write what you write? Why that genre instead of this genre or some other genre? 

All genres and comments welcome. Please leave your answer in the comments section below.

Thanks!

Filed under: Books, Genre, poll, What about you?, , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 Reasons We Write Sci-fi

Star Trek Original Series title letters.

Image via Wikipedia

1. We heard it was easier to break in.

2. We ate Robert Heinlein and really grok him.

3. We were promised flying cars and jetpacks. This is the closest we’ll get.

4. We’re doomed. Let’s imagine what our future would be…with  a world robot government.

5. Spider Robinson is a humor writer, but the sci-fi elements made us think a little bit.

6. We’re incapable of writing anything else.

7. We love aliens. More than girls. Aliens want to probe us.

8. Settling scores with a ray gun is way cool, man.

9. Bradbury, Star Trek, Babylon 5…there are so many inspirations for talking about the future (and by that I mean, you can really comment effectively on what’s happening now.)

10. You get to play dress-up at the conventions.

Filed under: Science Fiction, , , ,

http://mybook.to/OurZombieHours
A NEW ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY

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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