I’m working on the last draft of the next instalment of the Hit Man Series, Deader Than Jesus. My luckless Cuban assassin has big plans for tonight. Here’s an excerpt from today’s revisions…
Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, the character of the clever hit man will be played by Jesus Diaz. The actor’s motivation will be supplied by his lost childhood and tortured fool’s soul.
Take a deep breath. Step closer to the mirror. Look into your eyes and try to find the man behind the scary luchadore mask. What happens tonight shouldn’t be narrated by Morgan Freeman. Tough guy voice over work for tonight’s adventure should be supplied by the cowboy in the Big Lebowksi, Sam Elliot. Or maybe Dennis Leary could put a funny, edgy spin on what’s about to unfold, like he does for those truck commercials.
Somebody really badass should play you. If John Leguizamo isn’t available, can Jason Statham play a short Cuban?
I think the book will be out in a month (or less.) Stay tuned, and be sure to read Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus. You can jump in anywhere, but you’ll get the full flavor if you start at the beginning. Enjoy.
Here’s what’s up:
I’m powering through the last bits of This Plague of Days, Season Two. (Read this post at ThisPlagueOfDays.com to find out more about the exciting stuff coming in Season Two.)
As the summer winds down and I toil on the manuscript, things have gotten a little crazy. Okay. Maybe the crazy is just me, but the point is, I’m overwhelmed with work. Solution? Oddly, the solution is: Add more work.
In order to pay bills and get life on track, I’m starting another business in addition to Ex Parte Press. My daughter asked me today about my plans for the fall.
“Daddy is setting up another business, sweetie. That’s what daddy does because regular jobs give daddy a rash.” It’s true. I have control issues, meaning I have to be in control to function in the world. If someone tries to control me, I alternate between depression and anxiety. There’s also a little bit of Jesus Diaz in me that gets activated. (If you don’t get that, you need to get this and this!)
Still…another business? Again?
It’s not despair I feel…I don’t think. It shouldn’t be despair. I admit that I do wish I could make Ex Parte Press work faster so all I had to do was write. (Hell, while we’re at it, why not hot and cold running interns, a latte fountain and a lottery win?)
However, I get excited about doing creative things. Starting up businesses is creative, too. It gives me anxiety, but also nervous energy that I can pour into all my endeavours. I crave constant stimulation. Whether it’s writing or helping people solve problems, business ventures and new books are on the same artful continuum.
But why another business now?
My publishing company isn’t making enough money to afford a vanilla bean latte fountain…yet.
I must emphasize: YET. Here’s why I’m optimistic:
This Plague of Days and Bigger Than Jesus have some big publicity coming their way soon. I’m revamping Crack the Indie Author Code for print and getting back marketing control of Self-help for Stoners. I have big plans for the third book (and a bunch written already) in the Hit Man Series. I’m already 25,000 words into This Plague of Days, Season Three. In November, I’ll speak at the London Central Library for an evening of readings and publishing Q&A. I’m juggling a lot of balls, but with heavy demand, I’m a high-functioning cyborg from outer space.
I’m activating marketing plans for more of my books while writing more books. There aren’t enough hours in the day for all I want to create. Sometimes the headaches and insomnia hit when it’s all too much. Sometimes I work on stories and plans in my sleep. (No, really. That’s true.) In the past two years, since starting Ex Parte Press, I’ve published ten books. Despite my other business start-up, I do not anticipate my publishing pace will slow.
I’ve got big plans on several fronts. There’s much reason to be optimistic.
This Plague of Days is beginning to get traction. It’s a time of uproar as I fight to get another income stream started and my kids begin to attend two different schools. Our busy schedules are more complicated just as I launch more books and prep for the fall and Christmas book season. Plus, my podcasts and many blogs will continue. I am your friendly neighbourhood writing machine and together, we will overcome. I am Resolve.
Because of Season Two of TPOD, the All That Chazz podcast has necessarily been on hiatus for August. (The family wanted family time for a change and we had a nice and necessary break before diving back in.)
This is not a struggle. This is Nemo: Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!
A new episode of the All That Chazz podcast returns next week!
taking up residence in Nowhere’s Middle.
I think how comfortable you are.
I want to make you uncomfortable but
you’ll forgive me. Probably.
Discomfort is the trip explorers pay for.
I want to drag you into the darkness
and shine a light
on the secrets you keep from yourself.
My stories are about your secrets.
I probe your doubts with my tongue.
I prick your fears with a million little needles
disguised as words.
My mission is to crawl inside your mind
to rearrange the furniture
to peer in cupboards
to reach into the rear of the junk drawer.
I dig behind bedroom walls.
I pry out dirty little truths
with sweet lies.
I write on your nerves.
You read on the edge of your seat.
Not everyone who deserves to die
will be killed.
We’ll explore the cobwebbed basement together.
Brace yourself. There’s no armour over your heart where we’re going.
Once you think you’re ready,
see the world as I spin it.
Let’s take a trip into the Deceptive Familiar
at the sharp Edge of Nowhere
where heroes and villains
trade black and white hats
for fun and profit and meaning.
We’ll find dreams and treasures
amid the foundation’s ruins
and Ruin’s foundation.
What I’m about to tell you is not a spoiler to the story of This Plague of Days.
What I’m about to tell you is a little extra that no traditional publisher would have allowed me to do. First off, let me say this is an odd book about the coming world flu pandemic. Then a variant on the Sutr-X virus transforms the infected into rabid cannibals.
It’s two books that come together as one.
It’s an international thriller in the style of World War Z. There’s a villain, a conspiracy and an intrepid group of underdogs trying to foil the evil plot.
There’s also a midwestern family caught in the first wave of the plague who have no idea the cannibals are coming. They are forced to deal with ordinary humans who have become looters, murderers and fools amid the chaos and fall of civilization.
Then there’s Jaimie Spencer. He is on the autism spectrum and a selective mute who rarely gives anyone a clue to what he sees. He is obsessed with words and their meanings. His constant companion is a book of Latin phrases. Yes, he’s the most unlikely hero you’ll ever meet. And you’ll love him.
So, aside from giving zombies an A-level literary treatment, what else did I do that a traditional publisher would hate (especially for this genre)?
The Table of Contents
Episode by episode, you get the story a bit at a time. Buy all of Season One and you discover…wait for it…the Table of Contents is one long poem. It’s a dark and fun poem. It says something about all of us. It speaks to grim forces, plot points, fun with language. It’s about mortality.
When I told author Jessica McHugh my plan, she made a surprised (WTF?!) face. Then she said it was a cool idea. Maybe she was just being polite, but I do think it’s cool. Why be an independent author unless you can play, defy convention and do something different that some readers will appreciate? Not all. I get that. However, when you tell me I can’t do something, I’m the sort of raging child that has to do the opposite. That attitude doesn’t usually serve me well, but this might be one of those times where people will think contrariness will help. It’s the only way I know to create something unique and interesting.
Whether you’re curious about the story or the poem, I encourage you to please buy, read, love and review Season One of This Plague of Days now. Thank you.
One week to the stunning conclusion in Episode Five!
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.
In case you missed it, here’s the synopsis to bring you up to speed on Higher Than Jesus:
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.
Our sponsor is Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. Consult him for all your graphics needs. Special thanks to Dave Jackson of The School of Podcasting for his help this week. If you need a new website or a new podcast, I highly recommend you get Dave’s help.
Music for today’s podcast was “Truth of the Legend” by Kevin McLeod of Incompetech.com. Awesome royalty-free music there. Check it out.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please review it on iTunes, buy my books. If you care to donate, I sure won’t stop you. Thanks for listening, in any case.
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)?
*Do you have similar goals for weight loss and exercise? A Fitbit will cost you about $100. Since it could save your life (I hope it saves mine), here’s the Fitbit link. For an alternative to the Fitbit, try Slimkicker.com or FitDay.com.
For more on the benefits of juicing and a healthier lifestyle, watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. For even more on juicing, go to Join the Reboot. Want even more than that to get on track? Vegucated and Hungry 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.
This podcast is sponsored by the great Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com.
Music for this podcast:
Mechanolith Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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.
And now, back to my books…