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 writing a novel easier than it looks

I write drafts for my novels at a rate of 1,000 words per hour. I can string more of those hours together if I plan ahead with a general outline, but I usually pants it rather than plot it. 

I think of my writing time in terms of word count and hours. Here’s why:

When I wrote This Plague of Days, I didn’t think in terms of hours then. I didn’t budget my time or work to a word count like it was a job. I just put my head down and wrote and revised many times, stealing time here and there without a real schedule. I can’t tell you how long it took to write that epic saga because I went through so many revisions. Also, because my approach was haphazard, I wrote slower then. Though I worked from an outline, the project took longer than it could have.

I was buying into the meme that slow cooker writing was the only way, despite Stephen King’s suggestion that three months ought to do it (and look at the size of his books!) If I wrote that series now, the first draft would take about 300 hours of actual writing time. That’s less impressive than saying it took me years to write TPOD, but it’s more accurate.

(By the way, I just found out the This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition has advanced to the second round in the Writer’s Digest Self-published Ebook Awards! Yay!)

When someone says it took them two years to write their first novel, that’s not true.

Two years equals 17,531.62 hours, including time spent sleeping, showering, goofing off, playing with children and pets and holding down a job, and procrastinating etc. Authors can write as fast or as slow as they’d like and each process is unique. However, there is no direct correlation between speed of production and quality. In fact, for the first draft, quality is nigh irrelevant.

Quality comes with subsequent drafts.

I find most of the jokes in the second revision and the plot problems to be fixed become clearer by the third revision.

Take NaNoWriMo, for example…

I’m planning 55,000 words for my current WIP. That means 55 hours for the first draft this month. As my current schedule allows, I’ll be done well before the NaNoWriMo deadline as long as I continue to protect my writing time.

Fifty-five hours sounds much less intimidating and more realistic, doesn’t it? What’s one work week to you? Forty-four hours? I approach my writing like a job. It’s a job I love, but there’s no waiting around for inspiration to come to me. I hunt inspiration down. Inspiration and efficiencies are habits learned by writing more and doing so consistently.

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry.

For my crime novel, Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes, I’d planned on looking for the exit to the book around 50,000 words and topping out at 55,000 words. It took me an extra 17,000 words to wrap it up neatly at 67,000 words. Still, 67 hours to a first draft sounds like much less drama than saying it took me a month. That’s just 16.7 hours per week to come up with a first draft. (For a while in the ’90s, that’s about as much time as I committed to watching television.)

I’d give you a measurement of editing and revision times if I had them, but that varies too widely depending on the book. For instance, I’m putting my time travel novel on hold because I’m not happy enough with it yet to release it. I’ll come back to it in 2015. However, I expect to have my current WIP out in time for Christmas (assuming I still love it when I’m done.) 

Write as slow as you want to or as fast as you can. It doesn’t have to be a job. Hobbies are good, too, so write at the pace you choose.

My point is, we don’t have to be drama kings and queens about the writing process. When you hear of writers putting out a lot of books fast, that’s not really quite as hard as many would lead you to believe. Writing is a time management issue first. The other skills required come into play after we commit to investing the hours.

But it can’t be good because it was written too fast!

Writers who cherish writing slowly have my utmost respect until they insist others write at their pace (and many people write much faster than I do.)

On the Road, Casino Royale, The Gambler, A Clockwork Orange, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and As I Lay Dying were written in less than six weeks. I wonder if any of those famous books were actually written in less time than that if the authors had tracked their hours.

Fast writers manage fear because they think about each book project in terms of a formula:

Word count goals + hours x perspiration (divided by distraction)

Prolific writers manage their time, that’s all. No drama. Inspiration usually arrives at the keyboard at about the same time we do.

Write. Revise. Edit. Enjoy throughout. (Now don’t tell anyone how easy it is to get to big word counts or they might start to think that writers aren’t special snowflakes!)

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute and I just published my 15th book. Imagine how many more I could have written if I hadn’t been sucked into the vortex of “Must See TV” back in the day. 

Filed under: My fiction, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As a writer, what’s optional? What’s necessary? What’s real?

1. I think charity, political action and social justice is important. Let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

(For instance, I’m trying to help a guy find a kidney.) 

This post is about doing what’s necessary and managing our time better as writers and publishers. Don’t click away. It’ll be fun. You’re going to like this post a lot, trust me, but before we proceed, please consider that at least one good kidney is what’s really necessary. Please sign your donor card. Follow @RSawatsky and retweet him. #DudeNeedsAKidney! Spread the word to change and save lives. Thank you.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming…

Organ donation matters to all of us but Amazon and Hachette’s machinations really don’t much. I try not to get too caught up in industry debates that don’t affect me and hurt my productivity if I give them too much energy. I’ve commented on Amazon versus Hachette, but I don’t live and breathe that debate because I feel no agency in changing the outcome. Amazon and Hachette are gonna do what they’re gonna do.

Meanwhile, I’m publishing my fifteenth book at the end of the month. (That averages out to five a year, so clearly I’m a slacker.) My point is, it’s better that I spend time telling stories instead of scurrying around the ankles of giants.  

2. If you can’t afford to pay an editor, you can swap services, use your writing group or crowdsource. Finding a good editor is hard. Harnessing the hive mind, if you have enough solid people on your side, is easier in some ways. If you can afford to hire an editor, don’t stop there. You probably still need to crowdsource to get a lot of eyes on your manuscript before you release it. More proofreaders in your beta team now mean fewer problems later.

Beware of people who approach you about editing your next book. Better not to answer them. Best to depend on the team you develop and choose. Finding help gets easier as you go along. Don’t despair and take the time you need. Also, there’s zero shame in taking that job you need to pay for the professional assistance you need. You’re a full-time author if you put in a lot of hours, no matter what job is listed on your tax form.

3. I got a bill. As a result, I have never been so focussed as I am now on the famous 80/20 rule. That which does not advance my writing career in some tangible way is a waste of my time and I am ruthless. Priorities are: family and friends, exercise, writing, a certain degree of social interaction and the pursuit of happiness along career lines.

I write and exercise early in the day to make sure that gets done. Everything has a schedule and I am plugged into it.

Why exercise? Because we’re sitters and sitting is the new smoking. Self-care puts the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting other passengers in need. Do that or we’re all gonna die.

4. Experiments are conducted. That which works, stays. That which does not is jettisoned. Bookbub and BookGorilla and Freebooksy are still in. I try smaller services sequentially (separating promotions) to see if they have an effect on daily sales. They don’t (for now) so they’re out. I’ll revisit them periodically to see if they’ve grown their subscriber lists substantially, especially if they’re free services.

If I can spend an afternoon at some kind of author event and if I’ve just reached one new reader and touched their hearts? I’ve wasted that afternoon. 

I’m not playing small ball, anymore. I don’t hang out hoping for individual conversions. I make alliances with my fellow author army for mass mind invasions. I experiment with keywords and categorization. I give sermons to the masses. Scalable stuff. I don’t want twelve disciples. I want a vast cult of love that spreads among strangers by word of mouth in airport lounges and through the matrix as fast as the newly converted can warble at each other excitedly about my last book and my next book. I am a happy infection.

Don’t get me wrong. I love every reader who gets me. I’m not trying to sound harsh. I’m trying to maximize my time because I’m not immortal (yet.) Only the willing are drafted. I’m prepared to sell my books and ideas but it’s an invitation, not a hard sell that makes me hate myself and lose psychic energy.

If I have to spend time convincing them to take my book into their hands? They aren’t ready for me. They’re ready for James Patterson. Godspeed.

5. It’s best to hire someone to do your graphic design. I always recommend Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He is awesome and if you employ his talents you’ll undoubtedly sell more books.

If you can’t do that (due to financial emergency or scheduling issues), kdrenegade and picmonkey are options that work best together. There are many editing programs. Whatever we do won’t be as good as what a professional can do for us, but it might do until we can redo those covers with the pros.

Do do your best or you’ll rue your doo doo book covers.

6. Book formatters can make your work look great and elevate your art with their art and sensibility. Pay them if you can afford to do so. Otherwise, let’s not be quite so hard on amateur formatting attempts as long as it’s functional.

For instance, book formatters will insist that your print book must begin on the right. The people who care about this are book formatters. They can be hypercritical of details no one else notices. Also, unlike the formatting experts, I prefer seeing the title at the top of each screen of an ebook. I tend to read ten books at a time and the header they disparage as unprofessional reminds me which book I’m looking at instantly. (Did I mention I don’t have a lot of time to spare? Yeah.)

If you don’t care about certain details, you can do it yourself without expense or worry you’re doing too much that is wrong. Experts love to tell you you’re wrong. Non-experts, too. Especially non-experts.

There is much to obsess over. This is not one of those things. Prioritize what matters to you.

7. I blog when I have something to say. Otherwise, I write books.

Chasing the dragon by posting to a blog twice daily (or more) in an effort to boost blog traffic is so 2004.

8. YouTube videos of cats freaking out = a gravity well from which no one escapes. Don’t go there. If you do, you’ll write one less book this year.

You can’t feed your cat by watching cats on YouTube unless you film your own cat to make money on YouTube. You didn’t think all those crazy situations caught on video were accidents, did you? No. That’s a conscious plan to monetize cute (and steal your writing time.)

9. Don’t complain. Never explain. 

Someone at Thanksgiving dinner and on Christmas Day is caught up in outdated misconceptions of what you do. This is an energy suck. Do you really want to have that same conversation about how ebooks aren’t real books, the smell of paper blah-de-blah and your publishing venture is not legit unless a trad publisher pays you a pittance and abuses you with ferocious contract terms? 

Don’t get sucked in. Instead, agree with the Uncle Bozo. Tell him he’s absolutely right. He hasn’t changed his mind about anything ever, anyway, so stop butting foreheads. Your aspirations don’t matter and books don’t pay. Tell him what he wants to hear.

Then tell him, “Fortunately, you can remedy that.” Thank him for his concern as you say, “I’ve got my books in the trunk of the car. You can buy them right now! Thanks again! Be right back!” Don’t wait for his reply.

Bring them all. Before he can protest, tell him you have change for big bills. (With Square, you can also take his credit card.) Refuse to leave until those boxes are empty and his trunk is full. His choice is to buy your stuff or admit he was being a prick and trying to make you feel bad about your aspirations.

Uncle Bozo will never bother you again.

10. Look to others’ successes to figure out how to proceed and what practices to copy.

Don’t waste a minute worrying that everyone else is playing this game better and getting luckier and selling more books than you.

They are all doing much better (often succeeding by accident while you try guile!) They’re all doing great and thinking about buying a boat. You suck. I suck, too. I know! I know! But worry doesn’t help that. Writing the next book helps that.

You’re going to write that next book, anyway, no matter what the “market conditions” are. So go do that. No bullshit.

And stop checking your sales dashboard stats for green arrows ten times a day!

~ This post was briefly titled, “As an authorpreneur…” Then I changed it to “As an writer…” and it went out like that. Oh, for God’s sake! We now return to our regularly scheduled self-loathing….

 

Filed under: author platform, publishing, Rant, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing: Find time or make time in 22 quick tips

No one will give you time to write. You have to take it. I’m in a time crunch now, but I needed a break. Therefore, here are 22 tips it didn’t take me long to come up with: 

1. Say, “No.” Do that more.

2. Schedule your writing time.

3. Steal your writing time, between the other stuff you have to do and away from the stuff that’s optional.

4. Write when the kids are napping.

5. Get up before everyone else.

6. Get the kids to bed earlier and you stay up to write.

7. Stop reading reviews, checking Amazon stats and obsessing over what you can’t control. Write the next book.

8. Get away from Facebook and Twitter. That stuff is for breaks when you are creatively exhausted.

9. Plot while watching your kid’s soccer game. I came up with a book that way recently and still paid enough attention that I didn’t miss my kid’s heroics. 

10. Someone else is cooking tonight.

11. Delegate laundry. Ask for help.

12. Do more. Write more. Talk less.

13. Dump rituals around writing. Waiting for the perfect writing environment is procrastination disguised as usefulness.

14. Write on the train commute.

15. Turn off all screens but the one you use to write. Turn off your Internet connection during writing time.

16. Look at your email once, at the end of the day, if you must.

17. Don’t just delete the emails that don’t serve you. Dump the subscriptions to all those newsletters and blogs you don’t really follow.

18. Focus on what’s productive. Getting into arguments on the Internet isn’t productive. Feed your need for drama by writing books instead.

19. Someone will try to draw you into unproductive time sucks. If they won’t take a hint, do not tolerate trolls. Unfriend, unfollow, mute. Block them across all your social media so you don’t accidentally run into each other again after you’ve forgotten their names.

20. Make a habit of planning what you will write tomorrow. Momentum carries us forward.

21. Jump into writing first. What must be seen on television (precious little) is recorded for later.

22. Stop reading this blog. Go write.

Time is life. Manage it right and you’ll write more books.

 

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

How to ignore your blog and still get lots of traffic

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege.

I have six blogs and two podcasts. I admit that’s insane, but let’s move on from that briskly and let me tell you about the nice surprise that spurred this post.

I did something that, in the podcast world, is frowned upon. Until last week I hadn’t put out a new show since August. (Letting a show dwindle like that is called “pod fade”.) When I looked at my time management issues in the prep for the launch of This Plague of Days, something had to be deleted from my schedule. I pulled back the throttle on podcasting temporarily.

Just like with blogging, the less you put out into the universe, the less you get back. It’s smart to send up flares and broadcast signals frequently so we can escape anonymity and indifference.

Here’s the surprise.

When I published my All That Chazz podcast last week, I didn’t want to look at the numbers. I clicked on my stats, prepared to wince. Listenership had dropped, but it wasn’t the dreaded flatline I expected. I also know why.

Here are the usual tools for signal amplification for any blog:

Season 2 is the quest.

Season 2 is the quest.

1. Write great headlines.

The words “how to” and “review” are particularly strong link bait. Have a look through my blog for headline ideas. They aren’t all killers, but generally I think they’re pretty sexy.

2. Write great content.

Everybody says this, but it’s not very valuable advice. Lots of gurus in the “content is king” crowd don’t write great content. Nobody sits at their keyboard planning to write lousy posts. My suggestion is more specific: Be useful or be funny. If you can do both? Even better.

3. Triberr.

Being on Triberr definitely helps me get the word out. I know there are detractors. The detractors typically get less traffic. It doesn’t pay to be too shy and helping others always helps you, even if you don’t grok the kind karma connection immediately.

4. Overshare from the heart and get lucky. 

It’s better to write more, of course. When you fire more shots, sometimes you get lucky and hit a distant target.

I wrote a post about the frustrations of publishing and the joys of writing that got picked up by The Passive Voice last week. When a big site reblogs your work, you’re introduced to people who have never heard of you. I got my best stats on that blog by writing this post: This is the post I shouldn’t write. I shouldn’t, therefore I must.

5. Give people what they came for.

Posts that are too short feel like a cheat. Posts that are too long aren’t read. Posts that drag out the suspense too long are irritating, so here’s what you came for:

Tweet Old Post is a plug-in that works while I’m sleeping. There are over 1200 posts on ChazzWrites alone. The plug-in pulls old posts up and tweets them to the universe. That’s how my podcast was still alive when I came back to it. I had 81 episodes of All That Chazz still firing through Twitter and getting retweeted because of my headlines. (I’ve also got a lot of really nice followers on Twitter. Join us @rchazzchute.)

With this plug-in, you can post by category. Sometimes dated content slips through my filter.  (Try tweaking your categories so the evergreen content gets fed to Tweet Old Post.) More people find me because of this plug-in. If you have a lot of posts on your blog, they can still keep working for you long after you’ve forgotten about them.

Here’s the description of Tweet Old Post:

“This plugin helps you to keeps your old posts alive by tweeting about them and driving more traffic to them from twitter. It also helps you to promote your content. You can set time and number of tweets to post to drive more traffic.”

Go to your blog dashboard, search the plug-ins for “Tweet Old Post” and install it. Ta-da!

I wrote a post about book formatting frustrations and time management any writer who follows this blog will want to read. For that rant and my time management strategy, click here now.

This Plague of Days 2 E1 0918 AMAZON~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write suspense and horror. Episode One of Season Two of This Plague of Days is available at Amazon. You can begin eating this delicious serialized story of an autistic boy versus the end of the world with Ep. 1.

I recommend you cave to my charm and guile and just grab the complete seasons of Season One and Two, but whatever. I will possess your minds, my pretties. I love you for your minds, among other things. No one wants to be loved for their minds alone.

Filed under: author platform, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Are you in the echo chamber?

I love my writing community here. I’ve learned a lot from others and, as indies, we share a lot of information. We’re a generous bunch with each other. I appreciate your comments and participation on my little writing and publishing blog. Because I’m a sweet bunny pooping love everywhere, I have to tell you something with love:

Writers talk to other writers too much. We must talk to readers more.

Let’s make this go down easy by using an example from another industry.

When massage therapists try to figure out their businesses, they ask their peers and senior massage therapists for their opinions. They want to drink from the well of experience. It’s a good notion that frequently goes awry. Their peers are often as clueless as they are and senior therapists either don’t have the same problems or their advice is out of date. Take pricing, for example. They’ll set fees based on what they’d pay. But many massage therapists would never pay for massage. They don’t have enough money or they swap treatments with other therapists. Massage treatment is for people with real jobs and insurance coverage, not us.

Stick with me and hold my hand, because this is about to get uncomfortable.

Writers need to listen to readers more.

Sadly, writers often don’t have much money to spare so we use libraries or search for free a lot. Most of us buy books when we can, but with budgets as tight as they are, we’re often not your audience. As a result, many of our industry’s book prices are artificially depressed. We’re asking the wrong audience what we should do. (I’ve taken this advice. I just raised prices on some of my books and generally, the trend will be up.)

A veteran writer who’s “made it” (whatever that means) often doesn’t know all the variables that contributed to his or her success. If someone coasted to indie success from a high in traditional publishing, they can’t tell you much about the current scene. Precious few people attribute any of their success to luck. It had to be their sheer brilliance. However, many of us are brilliant and we’re still eating boot soup.

So, what not to do?

If you don’t tweet others at all, you may as well be on Mars.

If you rarely check your direct messages, you’re in the bubble.

If you only check your mentions on Twitter, you’re screaming into the echo chamber.

If you follow three people and two of those are your other Twitter accounts, you’re only hearing yourself plus you’re a raging narcissist (and not in a good way).

If you only have conversations with people who don’t buy books, you’re surveying the wrong people.

If you only speak to people who “buy” free books, you’re engaging the wrong audience. (Readers who buy with money instead of a click are often suspicious if your book is priced too low, for instance.)

If you don’t take new information in and seriously consider change, you’re for slavery. (Your own.)

If you do have conversations with readers from time to time and you talk about them, you’re on a smoother path.

If you don’t cultivate supportive friends, you’ll be alone, surrounded by fiends and without a fire ax or holy water.

If you only attend conventions with other writers instead of fans, you’ll have a great time talking to people who agree with you: “Wow, it sure is hard to connect to new readers!”

If you never get out and talk to real people in the real world and only connect with people on a safe and cyber basis, who will you learn to hate so you can kill them in your next novel?

If somebody says, “I prefer paper books,” and you reflexively say, “How Amish of you! Ebooks are the only future!”, that was kind of funny, but you should be listening instead of cracking that same joke open again. It’s rotten on the inside.

If you say all this social engagement is too hard and it takes away from your writing time, I’m sorry. I thought you were writing to be read. Get a calendar or time management software. At least tweet or email during commercials.

If you immediately dismiss everyone with whom you disagree, you’ll never learn the secret to…well, anything really. Plus, you’ll come across as a jerk.

I’m not suggesting you allow me or readers or reviewers or anyone else to run your life. I am saying that if you recognize yourself in this list and it gives you that squirmy squirts feeling, adapt accordingly. Listen.

You should listen to me. I’m a writer.

Filed under: author platform, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, readers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing and Podcasting: Blog Highlights from The Week That Was

A cross-genre flurry about  society's collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy's love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

A cross-genre flurry about society’s collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy’s love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

The book I lost a job for…and why zombies? at ThisPlagueofDays.com

This post is as much about writing, characterization and process as it is about my horror serial. You’ll want to check this out.

Cool LeRon Barton Writes Straight Dope at CoolPeoplePodcast.com

I sat down with LeRon Barton to discuss drug culture in America for the Cool People Podcast. LeRon interviewed a host of people in the drug Cool+People+Podcast+Finaltrade and looked at it from all angles, from meth users to legal marijuana growers. Then he wrote a book, Straight Dope, about those candid interviews. It was a great conversation you’ll want to hear listen to and ponder. We dare to ask the question, “Why does Lindsay Lohan get so many breaks?” The answer we come up with is surprising.

The One That Gets Sexy on the All That Chazz podcast

Each week I read from Higher Than Jesus, my crime novel. In this episode, Jesus Diaz (my loveable Cuban assassin) deals with fallout from a life Dark Higher Than Jesus banner adof violence as he gets busy for the first time with Willow Clemont AKA the future Mrs. Diaz. The childhood trauma that shapes Jesus’ life is the core of the book, but it’s the erotic unveiling that will keep you riveted as this chapter gets sexy. (Yes, I use my sexy voice.)

Photo on 12-12-05 at 4.33 PMThey versus We: From Slave to Immortal in One Manifesto 

This is an artist’s cry of defiance. We need to be defiant. We must be unique to survive. There are dark forces united against us in a system that does not care about us. Consider this manifesto our rallying cry in the war of Art.

This Plague of Days: The Pitch

If you’re looking to see how a pitch is constructed, here it is. I’m not sending this off to agents, but if I were, this would be what the TPOD pitch wouldThis Plague of Days III look like.

First it was kale shakes. Buttered bulletproof coffee is next!

Behold! The awesome power of the kale shake!

Time Management for Weight Loss and Everything Else

DecisionToChange.com is my fastest growing blog. You’ll find all sorts of interesting tidbits about health, food diaries and more here. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and spread the word as I work on my weight loss journey. You may even want to join me.

Uncomfortable answers to questions about blogging

This was my most popular post by far this week. If you missed it, you’ll probably want to have a look for ideas about when to post, how to improve the look of your blog and how much to post. Plenty of issues tackled here, including the most troubling answer to a question rarely asked: Why blog at all?

What new on Vine?

Click it to grab it.

Click it to grab it.

Have you updated your author site’s links and pages recently? I updated several pages on my author website this week. Perhaps most important this week, I added an update page to supplement my guide to the Vine App, Six Seconds. This book, about marketing using this very cool app came out not long ago, but each month the developers have tweaked it somewhat. I’ve added notes about those improvements on a timeline as the upgrades come in. Note to all: Vine had 13 million users last week, but it’s on Android now, too! That’s a lot of eyeballs and a free way to spread your word on video Twitter.

I appear on the Inverse Delirium podcast

POD Chazz 2I love podcasting. I love comedy, stand up and otherwise. I love it so much, sometimes I appear on other podcasts. I did a comedy sketch for Inverse Delirium, a podcast from Baltimore. I play Professor E. Coli. I’ll be in another Inverse Delirium later this summer, sort of playing myself.

(This week, I was briefly mentioned on The School of Podcasting and The 40-Year-Old Boy podcast, too! Love those guys! Checkout their podcasts and subscribe to them, too.)

Filed under: All That Chazz, blogs & blogging, book marketing, Books, getting it done, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, readers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I screwed up. I’m going to need a bigger boat.

I screwed up

I had a publishing schedule and a plan. I committed to ship books on time. As Seth Godin says, “Artists ship.” This is business, so make a good plan and Cool+People+Podcast+Finalstick to it. But what if the plan sucks?

Time to adapt

Adaptation is what a small company can do that a big company often can’t. Big companies have committees and hierarchies and approval processes. I’ve got me and a couple of freelancers and an ad hoc committee of friends and allies I bounce ideas back and forth with. All the decisions, blame and reward go to me. It’s time to take blame and make new plans.

The Excuses Not to Ship

Six+Seconds+copyI had stalled out on writing fiction for a couple of weeks because of time management issues and sickness: My daughter got sick; I started a new podcast; I wrote a book about Vine. All those things were necessary to deal with and I have no regrets. I’m rather fond of the sick kid, so there’s that. I’m excited about adding another podcast (the Cool People Podcast!) to my tiny empire. Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App, was a fun exercise that could actually help people get more attention to their brands with a new social media tool. Diversifying helped my other books’ sales, too. As diversions go from the main war plan, these are pretty good ones. However…

The Reasons to Adapt

My production plan was off target because I need to launch a new series to get more attention to my other books. I try not to think too much about all that I have planned for this year. If I try to grok it all at once, my cerebellum pounds my brain pan until I lie down clutching an Advil bottle.

The core issue is the crime fiction I write is hardboiled, but funny. That’s a tough nut to crack. Many would call sardonic neo-noir Bigger_Than_Jesus_Cover_for_Kindlea forgotten niche. The reviews of the Hit Man Series (Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus) are great, but I realized I had to diversify to get the whole line of books more attention.

Self-help for Stoners, for instance, sells the best consistently, but it’s also been around longest and by some people’s lights, it’s experimental fiction, too (or at least weird and maybe challenging). The Hit Man Series would be considered experimental by some. I don’t agree. In fact, I think that’s a bit silly, but who cares what I think when I have numbers to evaluate? I have to diversify to get the tide to raise all the boats.

The Original Plan

I was going to write the third book in the Hit Man Series, Hollywood Jesus, next. I’m already more than halfway through it and I love that character and his story. The book after Hollywood Jesus will be a real twist, too. I’m going to revisit characters from the original book. My pitiable assassin, Jesus Diaz, will share the book with…ahem…no spoilers yet…but the twist will make that series achieve lift off in a huge way, I’m sure. I can hardly wait. However, in publishing Six Seconds, I’ve seen how one book can help other books in surprising ways. By giving new readers a surprising book that delivers in a more conventional way in a comfortable genre, I’ll open them up to trying my other brands of inspired lunacy.

The New Plan

Higher than Jesus Final NEW copyI have a post-apocalyptic, coming-of-age plague thriller that’s already written. It took me a year to write. I’m revising it now. It’s 125,000 words and ripe for serialization. This book has some strange elements to it since much of the action is seen through the eyes of a boy with Aspergers. I’m going to publish the Aspergers/plague book next, instead of Hollywood Jesus. Though the subject matter can be strange and wonderful and scary and terrible, it’s an adventure story told in third person, limited omniscient. In other words, it won’t scare anyone off because it feels “experimental”. Strange at times, sure, but it’s ultimately about a family and family relationships strained by a crisis. In the Hit Man Series, there’s a lot created to make you laugh. In this series, you’ll take me seriously.

I will deliver the plague thriller in two months. Anybody who wrote me off as too weird for them just because I write stuff that challenges preconceptions of how stories should be told? Buckle up. I’m coming for you and I won’t even have to shanghai and coerce you up the plank to my party cruise. You’re going to want to be a passenger on my pleasure boat. I’m making it bigger, just for you.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

“You will laugh your ass off!” ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

Game on.

~ Chazz’s author site is AllThatChazz.com where you can find out more about his books or check out his rants and author readings on the All That Chazz Podcast. His new website is CoolPeoplePodcast.com. The first episode features horror author Armand Rosamilia in conversation about zombies, The Walking Dead and writing more books, faster (among other things.) Check it out. 

Filed under: book marketing, Books, ebooks, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing and Production Schedules: What it looks like

Dark Higher Than Jesus banner adThis week…

1. I’m writing a non-fiction, instant ebook. It won’t be more than 10,000 words. I had 5,500 the first day and I’m finalizing it now. The turnaround time in total will be one week. Why? Because I found a topic I’m excited about. People will benefit from knowing more about the subject and use it to expand their businesses. One more day of research and writing and another bit of interviewing should do it. More on this soon. It’s also fun, and how rare is that?

2. I still have two books of fiction in production. One is the next Hit Man novel and the other is a massive post-apocalyptic tome. Two to three thousand words a day on these has to happen to make my plans move forward according to schedule.

3. With the help of my friend, Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting, a new website for a new podcast is born. Details to follow once the website is prettier and filled out and curvy in the right places. This is just the beginning, though I think we’ll have a few podcasts up soon.

This will be an interview show, unedited and bouncy. I’ll talk to cool people for about half an hour about their businesses, their books and their lives. Think of the coolest person you know. Email me their contact information at expartepress@gmail.com. They could be a future guest.

4. Coordinate with my graphic designer, Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com for podcast and cover art. Don’t have to budget much time for this. Kit knows what he’s doing without me sticking my big nose in.

5. I’ll also have to get a new blog theme going and generate content for the new website. I’ve explored different options for a recorder for Skype interviews. Fortunately, Dave saved me some money by suggesting Call Recorder for that job. I recommend Hover for your website registration needs. They’re easy to deal with and there is no hard up sell of services you don’t need.

6. Record the original podcast, All That Chazz in a few days. Yes, All That Chazz will continue. These next nine months in particular are going to be a little more furious than usual. We’ll see what’s born at the end of that gestation period, literature-wise. 

This week it’s another reading from Higher Than Jesus and I really don’t know what else yet. When I put my mind to it, something will come. Something always does come along. I hope it’s funny in the right spots for the right reasons when it arrives.

7. I’m going to resist an exhaustive listing of the rest of my to-do list because it’s mostly the mundane stuff everybody has to do. Sometimes I do actually write “floss” (so I will floss) and “brush teeth” because it feels great to cross an item of that damned list so easily.

When I get tired, I dip into Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men and remember what really great writing feels like. It spurs me forward. 

I’ll get it all done. C’mon. Write your way to happiness with me.

 

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, getting it done, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elvis has left Linked In

English: Graph of social media activities

English: Graph of social media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought I was a social media gadfly with unlimited capacity and patience. I was wrong. I thought more was always better. Usually more is better unless we’re talking gunshot wounds. However, as the reminders and posts from Linked In piled up, I found Linked In had the least to offer me of the social media options I’ve explored. Linking with friends or old acquaintances was fun. Finding out what horrible job afflicted an old enemy filled me with inappropriate glee. However, the rewards were brief. Most friends, readers and dreamers are on Facebook or Twitter anyway, so Linked In quickly became redundant. After the bottom dropped out of Facebook’s IPO this week, some pundits are saying the big FB has past its peak and will tank to become the next MySpace. Facebook still looks plenty active to me.

The primary reason for my ennui has nothing to do with Linked In: I’m not looking for a job. Publishing keeps me very busy. If I were looking for a job, I might feel differently.

However, I had thought the groups related to my interests could be useful. Theoretically, they could have been, but that’s where the corpse floated up. I’m not going to name any names, but I can tell you that far too many posts seemed to fall into one of two camps:

1. I know nothing about X and could someone explain all the basics to me so I won’t have to do a pesky Google search or look at Wikipedia or read a blog or a book on the subject?

or, far worse,

2. Everybody sucks but me and I know everything and I’ve been in this business for 40 years and you all know that because I start every snarky post with, “After 40 years in this business…”

Ugh. No, thanks. I’ve had quite enough of that attitude, thank you. I really have to protect my time, especially from big green meanies. I hadn’t encountered that much rudeness in one place in other branches of social media and my policy is I give rude people no time.

If you were trying to connect with me, there are still plenty of fun and friendly ways to do so (Twitter, Facebook, email, puppetry and interpretive dance or possibly even G+.) I don’t think Linked In is a great communications opportunity for indie authors or at least it isn’t for me. Joining was an experiment. Staying with it too long was my mistake. Leaving means one less thing to track.

(Hm? Pinterest? What’s that? Never mind what it is! Quick! Sign me up!)

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , ,

Improving ourselves: Bruce Lee, Reading self-help, writing horror

I’ve been trying to improve myself to make me worthy of your love. I’m not eating sugar so I’ll lose more weight (after gaining some back.) I’ll get to the gym. I’ll keep slogging on making my ebooks. I’ve been reading a time management book by the Bruce Lee of Time Management.

I’d tell you more about the book, but it turns out the author and Bruce Lee have something in common:

good at what they do, sure, but jerks.

Bruce Lee was a kung fu legend who made some interesting movies for 14-year-old boys and those with chronically arrested development. (Yes, I was so afflicted until quite recently.) But Bruce Lee also picked a lot of fights just so he could beat up his physical lessors . (You didn’t see that much in the biopic Dragon, but getting into too much trouble and buying too deeply into his macho bullshit was one of the reasons he had to flee Hong Kong for the United States.) Bruce Lee was also (struggling for a kind euphemism here) an intense individual. He had a thing about staring into people’s eyes as he spoke, even when he was driving. He got into several fender benders because of that macho man/genius policy. Bruce was an amazing innovator and there is much about him that is enviable. He’s inspired people far beyond the bailiwick of kung fu. The legend obscures the flawed person who stands behind the fiction.

Then there’s the time management guru: He started off with some good points, though his unexpected obsession with making more time for sex hit kind of a weird note. I’m sex positive, so I didn’t write him off quickly. Making more time for sex is a good thing rarely spoken, so good on him for speaking it. Then, for some reason (no editor or an editor who got overruled) he veered off into a narrative ditch. People in China die without healthcare because they don’t have money, he said, and that’s the way it should be. If you want to be able to afford healthcare and not die horribly, get off your lazy ass. Surgery is for closers!

Whoa.

His vision of getting the best out of life seems to be scheduling your time properly in an Ayn Rand hellscape where only the strong survive as you drive your enemies before you, crush them and hear the lamentation of their women. Okay, I’m paraphrasing Conan the Barbarian there, but seriously, the author crammed some pretty ugly beyond-far-right politics into his time management book and derailed his book.

I’ll learn to manage my time from someone else. I admit it, I’m not reading the whole thing. This isn’t a book review. It’s a warning to keep your inner disregard for fellow humans tucked away when you write a self-help book. Unless you’re a horror writer. I don’t want to read more and share a mind meld with someone whose concept of compassion for the sick is to cackle while he watches the poor die, drinking from a gold goblet while scheduling a spa treatment on his oh-so-organized Blackberry.

Hey, come to think of it…I am writing a book that has “self-help” in the title and there is a lot of horror in it.

Hm. I’m complex. And I’m trying to do better.

In my horror stories, I hint at a high regard for the worth of humanity.

There’s no horror at the loss of a life if you’re just losing another nosey neighbour you never liked anyway.

Filed under: book reviews, Books, writing tips, , , ,

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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