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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

When Everything Falls Apart

10 years of writing and publishing.

To my great surprise, I looked up from my keyboard last night and realized I started Ex Parte Press ten years ago. Wow! That decade went fast! And so many books! Cool! In theory, I’d like to celebrate. However, given the state of the world, I’m not in that sort of mood. I picked up a little bottle of yeast that will not expire until 2022 and said, “Sure, you’ll be alive in a couple of years, but what about me?”

I had such big plans for 2020. We all did. We’re at the halfway mark and, for me, the last six months were a write off. Oh, I often seemed busy. I messed around with some marketing objectives. My tasks, no matter how small, often expanded to the time allotted. There was always more research to do and preparations to make. I did a little of writing here and there, but I didn’t lay down my usual decent word counts. I was out of my writing routine and this Stella could not seem to get his groove back. I completed a book doctoring project for another author at flank speed. It’s often easier to honor our obligations to others than it is to take care of ourselves.

COVID-19 was and remains an enormous distraction. I suffer health anxiety, so I’ve spent a lot of time on issues beyond my control. I’ve washed my hands raw, lost sleep and, at odd hours, pulled out the Lysol wipes to cleanse doorknobs, banisters and…well everything. That’s one form of self-care, but stress management and mental hygiene are important, too.

Past time for a change

I decided it was time to focus on what I can control. My office is a mess and the household chores are overwhelming. Each day, I put something away, recycle, throw something out, or clean something new. We have a quarantine garden so I’m taking care of that. I’ve always regarded gardening as an old man chore, but I was wrong. I get it now. It is calming to grow what you eat, and more interesting than I expected.

I walk as much as I can and, in fear of the ventilator, I have to get my BMI down. I went vegan again and have lost 7 pounds in three weeks so far. As I write this, I’m scheduled to speak with my doctor on Monday morning to talk about some blood test results. That doesn’t help my health anxiety one bit, but I taught relaxation techniques for years. I just have to practice what I preached:

Focus on what you can control.

I’ve become more conscious of how I spend my time and what I think about. Call it mindfulness. When the fear rises, I watch it roll in, as if I’m an outside observer, taking in my reactions instead of wallowing in the anxiety. It’s hard to maintain and I do have my moments. However, by eliminating needless tertiary stress, my anxiety is usually manageable.

And I’m writing again.

I pared down my overly ambitious plans to manageable goals that are time-specific. I haven’t published since Christmas. However, I have two book projects I’m very excited about that are in varying stages of production. One is Crime and Punishment in the middle of an apocalypse. The other is a prequel to This Plague of Days. I hope to have them both out in late fall.

I’ve noticed that since I’ve become more aware and regimented about what I eat, I’m more mindful of everything else. Yes, everything fell apart. It doesn’t have to stay that way. I’m putting it back together and re-engineering it.

I think I’ve proved a well-known rule again:

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

~ If you want to see what I’m eating (and a bunch of other book stuff), follow me on Instagram @robertchazzchute.

Check out my books and subscribe to my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: getting it done, pandemic, publishing, the writing life, , , , , , , , , , ,

Brain, Porch, Rifles, Aliens

Huzzah, word warriors! What’s up? How are you holding up? Getting a bit of exercise. Even in a cramped apartment, there’s room enough to get into plank position long enough to wish you hadn’t.

Short update this week: I think I might be on the upswing personally. Still have to get taxes done and the garden in, but I’m feeling like it’s time to shrug off the funk and get more words down. The keyboard is right there, looking up at me. It appears decidedly judgmental.

This week at my author site, AllThatChazz.com, you will find an interesting video about doing the dopamine detox. It sounds more interesting with its other title. How I Tricked My Brain to Like Doing Hard Things.

For a quick feel-good story sure to warm the heart of any writer, meet Andrew Butters on my front porch through The AFTER Life Meet-up.

And for a good, long read, listen in on an uncomfortable conversation about taking the wrong lessons from disaster fiction. You’ll find it at my other blog, ThisPlagueOfDays.com. It’s called The Apocalypse Problem.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, try to stay safe. I noted that in my area, the premier tells us he thinks we’re past the peak of COVID-19. Not to be a downer, but we may be past this peak but it’s only a peak. Continue taking precautions wherever you can. Stop licking handrails and bowling balls. Watch the skies for meteors and aliens, instead.

Cheers!

Robert

Filed under: the writing life, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Not Writing but Coping

We want to accomplish great things, but what happens when we don’t want to do a thing? Managing energy is one key to productivity and energy doesn’t come from an infinite supply.

Do you ever stop in the middle of some chore and think, wow, these sure are odd times in the Upside Down? Remember the Before Times? Barely.

Not long ago, most of us had no idea how much or how fast the world would change. Worse, we don’t yet know how or how much things will change in the future. Oh, yeah. There’s also that…you know…existential dread thing.

If you’re still adjusting, that’s okay. If you are lonely, reach out. If you are struggling, seek support. I know our culture is often very oriented toward achievement. Do more! Be more! Succeed more! And particularly among our tribe: Write more! Aspiring to achieve is fine but under certain circumstances, head-down grinding and striving become pathological tyranny.

Rugged individualism can only go so far and, in times like these, it’s a dangerous myth. Not everyone is up for our usual workload. Stress tolerance, support, responsibilities, and advantages are not distributed equally. Maybe you’ve turned your energies to something soothing with a short-term outcome, like baking bread. Perhaps your focus has to be homeschooling your kids or taking on the role of a caregiver. Darker: There’s a chance you’re sick or in mourning.

If you aren’t writing now, I want to tell you it’s okay. We cope how we cope. Some will write more, some less and some not at all. Are you eating more? Eating less? Sleeping more or less? Under stress and such strange circumstances, why would anyone expect our appetite for writing should vary?

I recently had a chance to take a marketing seminar. I signed up for it, but as the date approached, I looked at the cost-benefit analysis. I decided I didn’t have the energy to devote to it. I’m not getting a lot of writing done just now. After I deal with taxes and prepare a garden, I think I’ll be able to throw myself into writing more. Until then, I’m prioritizing what has to be done now and managing my energies without too much shame. (A little shame, yes, but not too much.) After I deal with the highest priorities, I expect writing will be a comfort again.

We will each react differently and with varying degrees of patience. What’s not a panic today may vary with time. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Things are stressful enough, aren’t they? I’m not saying wait for the muse, but you may feel too tired to go hunting for the muse.

The coronavirus needs hosts to spread. If you are isolating, please take some solace knowing that every successful day in isolation means more lives saved, fewer carriers, and fewer people falling ill. If you are essential, thank you. I hope you will be safe, receive hazard pay, get better recognition for your service, full health coverage, and better benefits long after this crisis passes.

I’m not going to tell you to stay strong. Instead, I’ll ask you to forgive yourself when you don’t feel strong enough to do something optional.


Recommendation:

The latest podcast from Cracked.com features an interview with Jason Pargin. It’s called Common Beliefs that Make Disasters Worse. It’s an interesting and excellent take on what people and governments get wrong amid disasters (and how we might do better).

The interview is based on Pargin’s article, 5 Common Beliefs That Make Disasters Worse.

Whether you prefer print or audio, both are highly recommended.

Speaking of audio, a reminder:

Lie back and train your body to help ease your mind. You might not want to, but you may need to. Try the audio of my short relaxation exercise with How to make your nervous system less nervous.

Next step:

If you’re on the edge of writing again, but the energy is not quite there, it might be time for a dopamine detox. Check out a video about that. It’s called How I Tricked My Brain to Like Doing Hard Things.

Whatever your state of mind, you’re loved and needed. Take care of yourself.

Be safe. Much love,

Chazz

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Check out all his work at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: All That Chazz, COVID19, writing, writing advice, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Health, Reading and Writing

My blanket fort (for audio, writing and hiding).

Greetings from the Blanket Fort!

I’ve been in isolation for over a month now. One or another, none of us are immune to this experience. If you’re finding life difficult, the World Health Organization has recommendations for your physical and mental health.

You can access their many helpful suggestions here:


WHO Healthy at Home

Speaking of health, all our medical concerns naturally focus on COVID-19 now. However, the problems we had before the coronavirus continue even while we’re distracted.

Ryder is a sweet little girl undergoing cancer treatment. I’m sure you understand the pain and stress this causes Ryder and her family. I think of them often. Dealing with these issues is tough enough without the pandemic in the mix.


If you can help Ryder and her family, they have a GoFundMe here:

Help Ryder Show Cancer Who’s Boss!

Thank you!

In the meantime, here’s your weekly round-up of articles from my sister site, AllThatChazz.com:


In the Works has a cover reveal for the fifth book in the Ghosts and Demons Series and recommendations for reading material for your isolation bunker. This post features the incomparable Armand Rosamilia’s Dying Days and Dirty Deeds series. Losing yourself in a book is a great escape. Use that escape hatch!

Next up, What to Read in the Apocalypse, including a hat tip to Weep by Eoin Brady. My next book is a prequel to This Plague of Days and it’s set in Ireland. Mr. Brady’s zombie story is set there, too! I’m enjoying the complexity of his world-building. Recommended!

Finally for this week, Managing Pandemic Stress harnesses the 3A Triad of Stress Management. Don’t let the bastards or your existential dread get you down! I hope you’ll find this piece helpful.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I write novels about the end of the world and killer crime thrillers. Find the book links, subscribe and enjoy them all at my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: All That Chazz, authors, book reviews, COVID19, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Deciding to Jump


Remember that summer feeling of standing on the edge of a swimming pool, convincing yourself to jump? The water is warm, but it’s colder than the air so it’s going to be a short shock. The swim will be great, but you still hesitate to make that leap. That’s my experience staring at a blinking cursor just now.

I just woke up from a nap. I can’t wait for the next nap. Do you find your sense of time is thrown off? March lasted eight weeks. It feels like April 1st was a month ago yet Friday whipped around again quickly, didn’t it? My internal clock is confuzzled and I’m having trouble getting things done.

I’m no Farmer Jones, but concerned about the security of the food supply chain, I started a garden. I’m waiting for seeds to arrive. I made cornbread this morning. I play Scrabble and Boggle on my phone a lot. The days slip away and each evening arrives as a fresh surprise. Where did the day go?

I did manage to write 2,000 words yesterday. I feel good about doing that much (or that little). I’m working on a prequel to This Plague of Days. For all the pages I’ve not written yet, I’m giving myself a break. We’re all in extraordinary circumstances. Whatever you do to cope, it’s more or less okay to accomplish more or less. Circumstances are stressful enough without piling on more stress.

For me, getting started on a writing session is the hardest part. Once I take that leap and start swimming, I feel much better. It’s wonderful to lose yourself to a story. I love to read and write. Books make the world go away. Maybe framing the work that way will help to make that jump into creativity a little easier.

For your entertainment and edification, here are this week’s updates from my author site:

My Movie Moments

Preparing for a Post-pandemic World

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Find your next escape from the world at AllThatChazz.com.



Filed under: COVID19, getting it done, pandemic, This Plague of Days, Writers, writing, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers, Stress and, of course, Iron Man

We’re poor, starving artists. Of course, we’re stressed out. Why wouldn’t we be? I’ve often given lectures on stress management, so I’m going to give you a quick summary of what we’re normally told about getting all zenny. Then I’ll tell you the one useful trick you’ll remember and maybe even use.

Round One: 

Exercise, eat right, manage your time, use positive self-talk, deep breathing, be social with your support network, get lots of sleep, meditate, unplug more and say no more often.

Round Two:

For any stress, there are four responses: avoid it, alter it, accept it or act on it head on and solve that damn problem.

Round Three (and what you can really do, most of the time):

As suggested in Rounds One and Two, we can do everything that’s right for ourselves and go all goop.com and become perfect Gwyneth Paltrows, but you probably don’t have enough time, money and/or servants for that. In fact, trying to be Gwyneth Paltrow would add more stress to my life. I don’t look as good when I go blonde, for one thing. Also, I’m not a top Hollywood actress. I’m not even a bottom Hollywood actress working at Hooters. I confess, I’ll never play Pepper Potts. 

The answer, obviously, is: Be Iron Man.

Many people have the idea that the goal of life is to be relaxed all the time. You know what? Relaxation is great. It’s also bullshit. It comes in fits and spurts. Being relaxed all the time isn’t achievable for most mortals. Relaxation is often fleeting and, when it’s achieved, it can be shattered by a single bill, a phone call or a missile attack by the Mandarin. Not all stress is negative. Some sense of urgency is needed to ever get a book written, for instance. 

Yes, certainly take care of yourself and do the best you can, but stress-free is a high bar. Stress-resistance is armour in a troubled world.

Stress-resistant is more doable.

Think of Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Tony Stark, after he beat the booze (and Robert Downey Jr., the actor, post-drugs). In stressful situations (say…alien invasion) his reaction in the moment is to:

1. Crack a joke.

2. Think his way out of his circumstance.

And how do you Avoid, Alter, Accept or Act? Find the funny (subverting your rage with humor) and think your way out. When we panic or get angry, we get stupid and make things worse for ourselves. Do not catastrophize. Pause. Joke. Attack the problem with your brain. Attacking problems with your heart is a prescription for heart disease.

Thinking about the problem and holding on to your sense of humor might even keep you from strangling the door-to-door con artist who won’t leave your doorstep. That happened to me today and the twerp in question got to slink away without me denting his forehead on my “No soliciting” sign. Why? Because I kept my head and made jokes at his expense until he went away. 

Gee, I hope that jerk reads this. I think I stressed him out.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is nicer in person than you’d expect. Read the suspense and horror here. Listen to the All That Chazz podcast and the Cool People Podcast here. Nah, just buy and read the books. That would be cool. And if you’re Robert Downey Jr? Please have Jarvis contact me. You’d be great as the dad in This Plague of Days.

Filed under: Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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