In this edition of the All That Chazz podcast: Oscar fallout; scary health scares; great big kid love; Higher Than Jesus wins a cover design award; Six Seconds is released and I do a challenging (some dicks would say embarrassing) reading of chapter 7, “The Unknown Man”, from my crime novel. When I wrote the character of Chillie Gillie, I gave him a lisp. It reads well, but I had no idea how hard he would be to read aloud. You can be entertained by the story or laugh at my unintentional humour as i struggle through Chill’s dialogue.
This podcast is sponsored by Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. In case you didn’t love Kit Foster’s work enough already, you should know that it was his work on Higher Than Jesus that earned Venture Galleries’ Cover Design Award for Hardboiled Mystery! Thanks again, Kit! Check out Kit’s portfolio. He does web banners, too, so everyone can benefit from his services.
The big announcement this week is that my quick guide to using Vine is launched! The book is Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App. Vine is the Apple app to make short videos. I write about how to make stories, art and humour to promote your services or products in a fun way without feeling spammy. It will be available on more platforms than Apple soon, I’m sure. Think of Vine as video Twitter and get in early to make the most of it. Vines are so much fun to make, it’s an end in itself. However, I think the app has great potential for business. Finally, a fun way to promote your work and enliven your Twitter stream with easy to make video! Six Seconds is 18,000 words, brief and funny for just $1.99. Get it here. If you love it, please review it. Thank you.
Enjoy all the awkward lisping and thanks for listening!
It’s podcast #70! However, confidence shaken, join me as I go down the rabbit hole of angst and get past the ennui. Top secrets are teased; new podcasts, books and podcasts are launched; I talk about the glory of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men; writing contests, fear and gratitude. We round out the podcast with some What’s Cool News about a new app called Vine and I read one of my favorite chapters from Higher Than Jesus, my crime novel with a funny, luckless hit man.
Very astute readers might notice that, except for the final two chapters, every chapter title is a movie, usually something noirish.
Yes, it’s time for a reading by the author and Chapter 6 is called “Mean Streets”. So far in the story, Jesus has killed a man on Christmas Day in Chicago. The promised payment for the murderous deed doesn’t come through so he heads over to the God Eats Diner to see the client face-to-face and to get paid. Then our favorite funny hit man falls in love with the blonde glamazon Willow Clemont, the client’s daughter. Just as he’s about to ask her out, two guys with guns burst in demanding to speak to Willow’s father, Samuel Clemont, the wheelchair-bound former Marine. Jesus defends Willow, along with Chill Gillie, a very skilled bodyguard. We haven’t seen the last of the two thugs from the local gang, but in the meantime, Jesus walks Willow home and Cupid’s got them both in the cross hairs.
In “Mean Streets”, we finally find out a little more about Jesus Diaz’s childhood after he escaped that basement of terrors and enslavement in Miami. (For more on Jesus’s origins, get Bigger Than Jesus by Robert Chazz Chute.) Today’s instalment details how Jesus and Denny De Molina survived in Havana on the Hudson…and how Jesus got a taste for killing to survive.
I’ve been stymied. I hate that. I’ve been working on the new novel in the Hit Man Series, Hollywood Jesus. Several chapters went well, but there was something missing and I just figured out why it wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I was holding back. I wasn’t being reckless enough.
What makes Bigger Than Jesus such a great read is that it has the pace of a long chase scene with lots of twists and cliffhangers and no chance for anyone to catch their breath. I wrote Bigger Than in a certain way that was braver and less calculated than what I have been doing. As I wrote Bigger Than, each night I finished a chapter I often had no real idea how I’d get Jesus Diaz out of the corner I’d written him into. The next morning the answer came. (Sometimes it didn’t and I had to think longer, but when you ask the right question, the answer always appears.)
CUTTING & REWRITING…
The first stab at Hollywood Jesus wasn’t all bad. The chase scene with the cops and the scary way Jesus gets out of it? I’m keeping that. The meeting in the office? I’ll lose that. It’s too static and talky. I’m also keeping the big ending I’d planned, but the plots and plans and surprises go deeper and I’ll introduce new motivations.
The first two books started out with a murder. This time? It’s different, but no less scary and creepy. The key to making the character work for the reader is that he was terribly abused as a child and my funny hit man identifies with innocent victims. Jesus has a code and he always tries to make sure no civilians are hurt on his missions. Now that I see how this plot is going to unfold, it’s a much bigger, more sweeping story that has roots all the way back to the heart of book one of the series.
Jesus Diaz was in deep trouble with my first attempt at this book. I understand now how I can shove him down so deep, Hollywood Jesus will have a deeper emotional impact as well as more action with a pace that matches Bigger Than Jesus. Maybe even faster.
THE BIG PICTURE…
Bigger Than Jesus
New York; Opens with fast, perilous action; it’s a quest for money, love and escape with the alluring Lily Vasquez.
Theme: A man stands up to the Machine. He is not a cog.
Higher Than Jesus
Chicago; Opens with increasing tension, battling drug addiction while fighting two opposing forces over an arms deal and trying to save the body and soul of the sexy glamazon, Willow Clemont.
Theme: To become who you are meant to be, you have to conquer your failings.
L.A.; Opens with a rescue; opens old wounds in a war with multiple, powerful enemies, a slavery ring that hits Jesus very close to his heart and two beautiful women. Expect betrayal. Even so, you’ll be surprised from whence it strikes.
Theme: Sacrifice for the greater good…sucks.
I got my groove back, Stella! (That’s a dated book and movie reference, but it made somebody reading this smile briefly.)
New resolutions mean nothing without fresh resolve, every day. Here comes 2013, so happy new year, have a listen and buckle up!
Here are my commitments:
1. RE: My writing career: I’m using fellow author, Zombie God Armand Rosamilia, as my pacer. The goal is 10,000 words a week for me, too.
2. RE: My health. As a writer, I am sedentary. That will kill me if I don’t get off my ass. On my current trajectory, my first heart attack will hit in less than seven years and I’ll be dead in less than ten. That would be tragic because, aside from the fact that the universe collapses without The Magic That is Me, I’m way too young and pretty to die. I have a lot of books to write and not enough time to get them done on that shortened timeline. Therefore: I choose a new reality and daily exercise. I got a Fitbit and a juicer for Christmas.* Tally-freakin’-ho.
3. RE: Tasks to complete. I plan at least four more books in 2013. This is doable. It is a simple goal. It is not an easy goal. That’s okay. Mama didn’t make no wimps and I’m a genius, so what’s the problem besides acting unconsciously (i.e. sometimes acting pretty stupid)?
For more on the benefits of juicing and a healthier lifestyle, watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. For even more on juicing, go toJoin the Reboot. Want even more than that to get on track?Vegucated andHungry for Change are good movies to consider on Netflix (and those links will take you to their respective websites.) I’m not ready to go full Vegan — I’m keeping my egg whites — but for the next few months, I’m juicing to correct my weight and pre-hypertension so it doesn’t climb to full hypertension. (In Vegucated, you’ll note that participants dropped 20 points or more off their blood pressure after just six weeks as vegans.)
A key component I’m using for my particular approach to weight loss is incorporating bio-hacks from The Bulletproof Executive. Read, review and talk to your doctor if necessary. Not all hacks are appropriate for all individuals, depending on varied medical conditions. Given my condition, I’m taking a radical approach that may not be for you. However, I’m on stage this summer and I have to look awesome. (Oh, yeah…and there’s that little thing about wanting to live longer.)
Take in the information. Think about what’s right for you. Design a plan. Write it out. Report to somebody to keep you honest. Stick to it even when you don’t feel like it. This can apply to getting things done, balancing your check book or organizing your office. Whatever you’re challenge, you have choices to make. And let’s not kid ourselves: We’re conscious adults. Mostly, we already know what the right choices are. Find the tools that will help you with your goals and make those choices.
If it’s diet you’re changing, think more about all you can add in. That will displace what you’re subtracting from your lifestyle. For instance, you can have all the vegetables, homemade vegetable soup and vegetable juices you want and you’ll fill up with low calories, high nutritional content. The more green leafy and cruciferous stuff, the better.
We can change. If you get some energy from the podcast, come back to it and remember why you made this commitment to improve your life. Seek support from your circle of friends and fellow travellers. This is the Internet. Whatever your challenge, there’s someone out there who shares it. For instance, if you don’t have support locally, allies can be found everywhere. Consider Weight Watchers or start with podcasts, like Dave Jackson’s Logical Weight Loss. I’ll be checking in, too. Subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll let you know my progress in coming months.
Pop Goes the Weasel Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
MTA Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Mistake the Getaway #2 Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Clips on today’s show were from The Matrix, FDR, President Obama singing Al Green, Bush the Junior, Joe Rogan, Wikileaks recording “Collateral Murder”, Robocop, Sly Stallone’s speech to his son in Rocky Balboa (2006), Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, Howard Beal’s speech in Network, Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, MLK (x2), Pat Morita as Mr. Miyago to Ralph Macchio as Daniel-san in The Karate Kid. Obama pops up again, too.
To help with the bandwidth for the show, hit the tip jar/donate button to the right, buy some books or say hello via the Speakpipe prompt at the top right. Thanks for listening!
Today, in the early morning of my 48th birthday, I dreamt of Christopher Hitchens again. Instead of writing “again”, Hitch would have written “as I sometimes do.” Read and listen to him enough and you start to write and speak in his patterns, as one violin resonates with another. He spoke in complete sentences with a professorial British accent. You could hear every comma, semicolon and period.
I disagreed with him intensely over the idiocy of the Iraq invasion. (Christopher — never Chris — would have said “wisdom”, not idiocy.) For someone so against religion, his unwavering faith in that war still baffles me. His books were researched deeply and well-written. He shone brightest in debate and was always erudite and witty. I miss him. We met again today in a good, safe place.
In the dream, I’m some sort of documentarian but I’m helping him mow a massive lawn. He rides a huge mower and cuts a massive swath with wide blades. I have the same small red lawnmower from Canadian Tire I had when I was a kid. The metaphor for that didn’t strike me until after I awoke. (“I must caution you,” as Hitch would say, that’s a writing metaphor, not a penis metaphor. Hitch was a titan. I write amusing little stories for a tiny audience.)
The setting was a summer cottage, though here, it is always summer. Hitch confessed he enjoyed mowing the expanse on the big tractor so much he often mowed neighbours’ lawns, as well. That’s a joy difficult to imagine for him in real life. That was my first clue I might be dreaming.
He was friendly enough, but he was still Christopher Hitchens — before the cancer took him — so I was cautious with my words and mostly listened for fear of wearing out my welcome. (Hitch would have said, “…for fear of growing stale in his company.”)
He showed me his sanctuary where things were most quiet. I expected a large office with walls of books. Instead, we tiptoed past his sleeping wife so he could show me an incredibly white and clean bathroom off his master bedroom. In one of those Felliniesque details that makes you wonder about the gnashing teeth in the spinning gears of the subconscious, the toilet appeared to be filled with milk. I didn’t say so, but I thought he must have thrown up in that toilet a lot because of the chemotherapy. Reading my mind, he said that chemo and all pain was behind him now.
We sat outside in Adirondack chairs on the freshly cut, green grass and sipped lemonade under a warm sun. Wanting to appear game, I mentioned it was my birthday and told him how strange it was and how little I’d changed. “What’s the evolutionary advantage in not adapting? I haven’t changed much at all. In university, I studied the history of philosophy and the philosophy of history. Seeing so many civilizations rise and fall, it’s impossible for me not to be fatalistic about the fate of our own. Writing books is the closest immortality.”
“How have you changed, really?” he asked. “You must have, some.”
At 24, I was immersed and obsessed with violence and at 48, I’m a crime novelist. In sublimating my rage with humour, I’m creating art instead of bloody noses. I’m happier now. I laugh more and make others laugh. I was afraid all the time then, though I still can’t afford new glasses.
I became lucid then and I knew I was having a conversation with myself, not Christopher Hitchens. Disappointing. Though neither of us believe in heaven, the melting illusion saddened me more because Hitch after death was more placid than he ever was in life.
“Is fear of mortality what this dream is all about?” he asked.
“I’m still young enough that I fear failure more than death, though the two are inextricably linked.”
“‘Inextricably’, hm? Even though you know I’m not here, you’re still trying to impress me.” He didn’t say it unkindly.
“I’m not awake yet,” I said, though I could feel the real world pulling me away. I fought it, but once begun, that process can’t be stopped.
“I think I just answered my question,” I said. “The adaptive advantage of our minds changing so little and thinking like a young person is that I can still focus on achieving things in the future instead of worrying I’m going to drop dead any minute.”
“Try to stay young until the end. It goes easier that way.”
But that’s me talking to myself and I’m almost back in my bed with weak, gray light filling a cold horizon of snow and ice.
“You should write more,” he said, and toasted me with his glass of pink lemonade.
“I know. Thanks.”
I awoke thinking, time’s running out. I got up right away and wrote this.
Jesus versus Salvador Dali and the FBI! These are the last two chapters of Bigger Than Jesus by Robert Chazz Chute: The Man You Are Not and The Man You Are. Enjoy!
Next episode: I interview Scout Trooper, master unicyclist and videographer/marketing genius Brian MacKenzie. Then we start a new reading: Higher Than Jesus. Expect explosions, jokes, sex and violence and funny surprises. Bad guys will burn! Um…I’m talking about my next crime novel, not the Brian MacKenzie interview. It will all be fun.
Check out our sponsor, Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com, for excellent web banners, Quote Art, book covers and more!
Another free ebook! Has Chazz gone mad? Plus, in this chapter of Bigger Than Jesus, our luckless hit man is captured by Vincent and in the sights of a SPAS-12.
Higher Than Jesus is free for you to download until Nov. 23! It’s hardboiled sex and violence with lots of funny dialogue. Jesus is in Chicago killing a bad guy on Christmas Day, brokering an arms deal and failing miserably at group therapy. Grab the ebook as it races up the hardboiled and suspense lists.
A shout out this week goes to new newsletter subscriber PC Zick of pczick.com and author of Live from the Road. Want a mention in the podcast for your website, business or book? Subscribe to the AllThatChazz.com newsletter.
This is podcast is sponsored by the amazing graphic artist Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He can do amazing work for you, too!
This podcast is sponsored by Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. Check out his portfolio and use his services for book covers, web banners, Quote Art, book trailers, promotional videos and all your graphics needs. He’s the best!
Author Denise DeSio asked about kale shakes. (My buddy and graphic artist, Kit Foster, thinks I’m insane for drinking them and sent me the above graphic for a laugh.) I started a reply to Denise on ChazzWrites, but then my short answer got away from me. Here’s how I make my kale shakes for weight loss, mental acuity, health and a general feeling of awesomeness. (I’m not a doctor. I just remember what smart people say.)
First, the kale shakes: There are a lot of recipes out there, but I add at least a fistful of kale to a blender with a cup of water; add a small pear or two and a little coconut oil to a food processor or blender and set the speed to “liquefy to death”. The coconut oil adds healthy fat, is filling and sweet and increases absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Put the kale and water in first for easier blending. If your blender sucks, get straws with an extra-large circumference intended for thick milkshakes.
My drinks vary. I add protein powder and a carrot (for colour and beta carotene) or an avocado (for texture). Some people call it juice fasting. I call my shakes “liquified salads” that allow me to eat more vegetables than I otherwise would. It’s much more convenient, filling and pleasant than doing my rabbit impression.
Some kale shakes are more aggressive in their nutritional payload and punch, and include cayenne pepper, ginger or garlic. Experiment to find the right mix of fruits and vegetables. Strawberries are sweet but don’t have too many calories if you don’t go too crazy. Bananas are sweet, but they add too much sugar to be helpful (high glycemic index). The more cruciferous vegetables, the better.
For variety, I’ll have almond milk as a coffee with a bit of baking cocoa. I start each day with coffee with ghee (or grass-fed butter) so I feel full longer and eat much less than I used to. All those healthy fats increase satiety so the number of calories consumed goes way down and, contrary to the low-fat diet mantra that’s failed us miserably, the right kinds of fats actually combat cardiovascular disease. Fat and portion control is the answer to what cardiologists refer to as the French Paradox (i.e. The French are healthier than North Americans yet consume more fat.) We aren’t what we eat. We are the lies we swallow.
I still eat meat, but less so. I’m more Paleo diet than vegan, though I’m eating less of everything and vegetables are the main focus. For instance, I used to eat more luggage when forced to wait in airport lounges. Small children weren’t safe.
For years people have been running away from coconut oil and avocado, but they’re full of good fats (omega 3s and 6s.) If coconut isn’t for you, consider neutral-tasting MCT oil for the healthy, medium-chain fatty acids. I avoid sugar whenever possible. I’ve begun to get away from Aspartame because, now that I’m not anaesthetizing myself to my psychic pain with simple carbs, I feel more sensitive to my reactions to foods and chemicals. I opt more for xylitol or stevia as sweeteners. (Too much xylitol and you’re in the bathroom, jetting for lift-off.)
I also feel much sharper mentally now that I’m riding the green train. White bread, white rice, simple carbs and processed foods make me sleepy (when they don’t leave me hungrier.) You know you’re getting older when a couple of slices of Wonder Bread put you in a coma. I’ve eliminated pop. I exercise more and I’m sleeping better. Though I use a treadmill desk, writers are still so damn sedentary there’s really no choice but to move more if we hope to live long enough to see our books published. We have to take care of ourselves. I’m thinking of hiring a big guy to chase me.
The diet alterations are working for me. I started out with a kale shake a day and have graduated to two or even three instead of canned and processed crap. Grocery shopping is cheaper and takes much less time now because I buy leaves at farmers’ markets. (“Ooh, kale!” I say. “That would taste good chopped into a molecular paste with garlic and a half a cup of blueberries!”
For more on Upgraded Coffee and surprising brain and body hacks, check out BulletproofExec.com.
McDonalds used to have crap coffee. It tasted so bad, I thought it was a mistake. Then I tried it again and it tasted just as bad. Then they wanted to compete with Tim Hortons and Starbucks and improved. On my next try, I thought the McDonalds’ coffee wasn’t bad (and it was all I’d consume there.) However, after drinking it, I’d always feel awful and sleepy soon after. I found out why: It’s the mold we’re drinking in cheap coffee.
As a writer, I’m incredibly sedentary. I’m drinking, and chewing, kale shakes with some positive results to combat becoming puddin’. When I eat cookies, cakes and carbs, I feel lethargic. Knock back a kale shake and I feel energetic and focussed. But I missed the coffee. I drink almond milk as coffee, but was overloading on aspartame.
Next addition to the arsenal? Coffee, but not your dad’s coffee. Strong coffee filled with slimming MCT oil, coconut oil and unsalted creamy butter loaded with the kind of fats that are healthy for your brain and make you feel full.
I’m working on brain and body hacks using Bulletproof Exec. I can’t afford shipping in coffee, but I do have access to fire roasted coffee that seems fine. (It’s the mold and mycotoxins often found on coffee beans that make you feel like crap and when I drink the fire roasted stuff, I feel fine. I experimented with the butter (ghee) and MCT oil and coconut oil today. WIth a little bit of Xylitol (or stevia) it’s okay. It doesn’t taste as great as a latte loaded with sugar and cream, but the options I’m working with now might save my life, so there’s that.