Tag Archives: fiction

Season Two, Episode One: The Spencers Flee East

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers! Or just click this cover to get Episode One if you want the serialization.

 

About the bathtub scene from Season 2, Episode 1: 

There’s something about that scene which reminds me of American Werewolf in London, or maybe some of Stephen King’s work. 

In all post-apocalyptic fiction, the hope for the future must be greater than the horror, no matter how bad things get. I love The Walking Dead, but to be honest, I’m not sure what they’re fighting for. I even said this in Season One and I mean it honestly. We need more than the hope of taking one more breath to sustain us. Sometimes the reason to live doesn’t come from us, but from our children or spouse.

That’s ultimately what the bathtub scene is about. It sets the stakes. As long as her family is alive, Jack knows what she’s fighting for. As Season Two continues, it seems her grasp on hope is tenuous. The lure of the quiet death is something all survivors must consider. When confronted with continuous horrors without hope, suicide is a reasonable choice. At the bathtub, choices are made that give gas to the narrative engine of This Plague Of Days.

I hope you enjoy it.

~ Chazz

 


Q & A #3: Time Management and when will TPOD be available in paper?

Wow. That was timely.

Somebody asked when they can get a print copy of This Plague of Days

and someone else asked how I manage my schedule.

The short answer is, I hope to have Season One and Season Two ready by mid-November. It might take longer after what I went through tonight.

The long answer

I was just whining on Facebook that it took me four hours to reformat Season One for a 6 x 9″ paperback. (At 300+ pages, it’ll be thick.) I say reformat because I farmed out the job to someone and it looks like they didn’t look at it twice after they ran it through whatever ringer they put it through. (Disappointing because they did a great job on another book they formatted for me.) 

There are other variables with the print delivery, like finding a local printer for selling straight to readers. Amazon’s Createspace can be slow to get books to me (though this week they delivered faster than ever.) I also have to fit into my good friend Kit’s schedule. Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com does my covers and I’ll need to get a new  (back) cover for the print editions. 

Getting interior book design right in paper can be surprisingly tough, even with awesome tech. Tonight I stripped out the deep indents and extra tabs and deleted blank pages between chapters. Then I had to redo all the numbers in the Table of Contents. I would rather have used those four hours to work on two new books I’ve got planned.

Time management is a constant challenge.

To master my use of time, I track time and word counts with my calendar and I even use the  stopwatch on my computer. I drink smoothies because it’s healthier, but also faster, with less clean up. When I exercise, I go for fast and intense so I’m not losing time in the gym that could be productive otherwise.

I’m ruthless and committed so I get the time to do all the things I need to do to get stuff done. Some people like socializing and the great outdoors. I can sit at my desk for many hours without ever getting bored and I’m afraid to go outside. I frequently skip sleep so I can pound my head against the brick wall to get everything done. I did have a nap this afternoon, but I dreamt lucidly and came up with three battle scenes for Season Three. That’s good because skipped sleep isn’t a good idea. However, when the demon ideas bombard me as I suffer insomnia, it’s not really a choice but I may as well go with it and get something out of it.

This month I have to:

Launch another website and information materials for a new business;  prep for that launch while writing and revising two books; revamp another book and plan promotions. I must move into a new office, buy a printer, office furniture, supplies, surveillance cameras, new finance hardware, new software and put together a new mailing campaign for the new biz.

Sadly, I probably need to learn how to format the print books myself or find someone else to do it.

One of the big keys to turn the lock on getting stuff done is to do first what needs to be done most. Therefore, I try to get into writing as early in the day as possible. Also, choose to do things that have a solid ship date. I have a huge writing project and a much smaller, easier writing project. I’ll get the smaller one off the table first. 

This strategy not only maintains my will to live, it makes me look more productive because more stuff is flying out the the door faster. When I choose my project, I focus on the one I can complete within the shorter time frame first. Otherwise, I’d be juggling several projects but never bringing anything in for a landing.

Tonight’s unexpected reformatting fiasco sure didn’t fit with the plan I had for today. Sometimes, the time management thing just doesn’t work. Man plans. God giggles.


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 2)

Somebody asked if This Plague of Days is gory. 

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

Quite the conunbump, isn’t it? I mean, it can’t be a binary, yes or no answer. It’s a suspenseful story. One of my beta readers told me Season One isn’t horror but Season Two definitely is,  with more supernatural elements. And let’s not forget teaching a bit of Latin, discovering the names of new colors and learning the glabella relaxation trick. It’s a rich tapestry, I say.

Season One is based at the edge of reality but keeps a foot in that door. Season Two straddles the divide somewhat between international military thriller and some dreamy, supernatural scenes. I’m not trying to weasel out of giving an answer, but the reader is the variable, not I. Gee whiz, I tell the truth of one grisly coffin birth and suddenly I’m a monster. The coffin birth in question probably isn’t what you think it is if you’re a reasonably sane person. That’s a bit of (wisely) obscure knowledge.

This is my waffling way of saying that how gory you think it is depends entirely on you. Please read Season Two‘s sample or get Episode 1 on Monday and decide for yourself. Sorry, that’s the best I can do without crawling behind the controls of your brain and pushing all the buttons at once to see what happens.

One or two reviewers have mentioned that TPOD is a bit gory, but it’s not at all Texas Chainsaw Massacre over-the-top. Each act of violence advances the plot. In fact, everything advances the plot, even if I haven’t yet pulled back the curtain and yelled, “See? See? See!” Seeds are buried in Season One that don’t pay off until Season Three.

My kids are a couple of geniuses, although I’m proof emotional maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age. At ages 11 and 14, I’d let my kids read it. They’ve watched The Walking Dead and I hope they’ll read The Stand soon. Is The Stand gory? No. I don’t remember it like that. I loved that one and I purred softly when someone compared TPOD to Stephen King’s masterpiece.

(If you’re reading Season Two, have you gotten to the joke about The Stand yet? Did you laugh? I chuckled when it rose up off the screen. And the buried Highlander joke is kind of a gem, too.)

Ah. So it’s a joke book, but with a hero on the autism spectrum in grim circumstances. Speaking of which…

Somebody else asked why characters at the end of the world act the way they do.

My characters are pretty much like you and anyone you know. Under pressure, you make bad choices. I don’t enjoy stupid characters. They irritate me. Instead, I let smart people make self-interested, short-term choices. Smart people can do dumb things in fiction, if it seems like a smart choice at the time. Or people can act like cowards, jerks and manipulators, just like every other day. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Have you seen the news?

When it’s not the end of the world, smart people make sub-optimum choices all the time. They forget to get the chimney checked before winter. They put off paying taxes until the last minute. These sorts of operational deficiencies don’t make a heck of a dent in you besides stress. However, throw a bunch of people in boiling water and some interesting choices will be made that make sense at the time.

People act the way they do because it’s natural for them to do so. We’re emotional animals first. Danger amplifies the problems and complications that ensue. Maybe we’ll act better than my group of characters at the end of the world. But you probably wouldn’t want to read that story. Frankly, cooperation isn’t the way to bet when the danger is as big as it is in This Plague of Days. Also, I have to add, good books have conflict. So there.

Grab the complete Season One  and Season Two now or check out the release of Episode 1 of Season Two on Monday if you prefer to get your fiction as a serial. Either way, I hope you enjoy it. I’m straying off the beaten path and going for what people don’t expect from a book in this genre. That policy will continue in these books and all my books.

Got a question? Hit me up at expartepress@gmail.com.

Have you reviewed This Plague of Days yet?

If you would, that would be awesome and I’d appreciate it. Thank you!

 


This Plague of Days, Season 2: Expect more action

TPOD season 1 ecoverI completed the original manuscript for This Plague of Days a few years ago. Every day I headed over to the local Starbucks and typed on a little pad called a Neo. (Yes, I’m aware of the Starbucks/writing cliché and, no, I don’t care.) I finished that iteration of the manuscript at around a quarter of a million words. It’s a sprawling story with a big cast. The Stand is one of my favorite books and I guess that shows through. However, I wasn’t content with publishing models as they existed at that time. Now, between ebook distribution and the benefits of serialization, I have a book that’s gaining traction. (Check out the great reviews here, for instance.)

What’s up next for Jaimie Spencer?

Season One had a lot of character development as we delved into Jaimie Spencer’s handicaps and his powers. Everyone loves Jaimie, but we haven’t seen all he can do yet. He’s a selective mute on the autism spectrum, so it’s always significant when he chooses to speak. In Season Two, it’s still significant, but under special circumstances, he’s going to be a bit more talkative. I love writing this character!

What’s up for Shiva?

Ah, the devil in the red dress has yet to deliver her baby and she’s finding some changes in her body that aren’t explainable by pregnancy. She and Jaimie meet for the first time.

Has the British invasion finally started?

Yes. The infected invade the United States on two fronts! I’m telling you there are big surprises coming. That warning won’t help you.

What about the survivors from London?

The Brit refugees, led by Dr. Craig Sinjin-Smythe, are getting some military assistance but they’re having trouble catching up with Shiva. New cast members are added and others are lost to a bad case of Zombie Surprise. 

Who are the new characters?

There’s a small assortment of military personnel, an Irish policeman I like named Desmond Walsh and a busker/street preacher named Gus. Expect a touch of romance and meet a new villain to add to the mounting dangers to the Spencers. Also, a villain from Season One reappears.

How is Season Two going to be different from Season One?

Someone on my beta reader team noticed that the pacing in Season Two has amped up. We know these characters so now there’s lots of room for more high-stakes action with people we care about. The Latin phrases and fascination with words isn’t going away, but the fallout from Sutr-X and Sutr-Z is really hitting home now. Your home. 

The expected publication date for Season Two of This Plague of Days is the end of September. If you’d like a heads up when it comes out, or chances to win prizes and see advanced reading copies, click here to go to my author site  for details.

Sign up for the free newsletter and you also get a shout out on the next All That Chazz podcast.

The All That Chazz podcast returns next week!

 


This Plague of Days: The Mackinac Bridge Massacre

An excerpt from todays’ revisions of Season 2 of This Plague of Days. 

TPOD season 1 ecoverJack ordered her daughter to close her eyes, too.

“No, Mom.”

“Anna! I don’t want you to wake up screaming with nightmares tonight.”

“No,” Anna said. “I’ll look. Years from now, I’ll tell my children what I saw here.” She gazed at tangled horrors as the van bumped along over a sprawl of bodies. The uncaring Sutr Virus had not done this. People had done this to other people.

Many of those murdered had no eyes now, but their gaping jaws suggested anger, fear, pain and surprise. Anna saw torn flesh. White bones rose. Skeletons emerged from their hiding places. 

“If I don’t look…” Anna said, “it’s not right. Someone has to bear witness. If I don’t look, it’s like saying this doesn’t matter or it means I won’t be around later to pass it on. Someday soon, the animals will finish eating and what will be left but me and my memory? Not looking is like…”

“Giving up,” Theo said. “Yes. Look, Anna! It’s a heavy load, but someone who can tell the story should carry the memory.” 

 

Season 2 arrives this fall. You can get Season 1 now by clicking the cover. The revisions are going well, but I’m adding a lot of new material as well. Season 2 is packed with action.

 


This Plague of Days: Free Ebooks, Prizes and The Waking Terrors

From tonight’s revisions of This Plague of Days, Season 2:

Dayo kept the girls quiet. She’d thought it would be an impossible task, but one look out the window had been enough for the girls to retreat to their pillow fort beneath the dining room table. Mostly, they slept. They slept not to rest more, but to escape the waking terrors. When they did not sleep, Aasa and Aastha held each other’s hands and whispered quietly.

It was Sinjin-Smythe who gave them away. 

Prizes for friends and allies

Today, I had a little email meeting with my graphic designer, Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. As we gear up for the launch of Season Two, we have many great things in the works: t-shirts, raffles and prizes aplenty. There will even be…wait for it…free ebooks for people who help promote the serial.  

There are rewards for helping out.

To find out how to get a free ebook, click here.

Are you a book blogger looking for a review copy of This Plague of Days?

Let me know at

expartepress [AT] gmail [DOT] com

Thanks for checking out This Plague of Days by Robert Chazz Chute

Season One is huge.

Season Two is going to blow the back doors off your barn full of zombies.


This Plague of Days: Linkapalooza

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Latest excerpt from revisions of Season 2:

Mrs. Bendham called from the back of the van. “The man who warned you the epidemic was coming — ” 

“Uncle Cliff, Dad’s twin brother,” Anna said. 

Jack glanced in her rear-view mirror. “Cliff told us to get ready when people were still laughing at those of us who took the pandemic seriously.”

“That’s nice. Though what kind of preparation can you do against the Sutr Virus except take your vitamins, live in an aquarium and hope for the best?” asked Mrs. Bendham.

“We were better off for longer because of my brother-in-law,” Jack answered.

“Until everything was taken away.” Anna said. Jack heard something new in her daughter’s voice. That wasn’t self-pity. Anna hated the old lady. 

Good, Jack thought. Self-pity drains energy. Anger pays it out.

Mrs. Bendham seemed oblivious to Anna’s anger. “Where is he now? Do you think he got out of the way of it all?”

“I hope he’s waiting for us in Maine.”

Grab This Plague of Days, Season One here.

Get all the books by Robert Chazz Chute here

(I write crime, suspense, horror, non-fiction, general tomfoolery.)

Want to hear excerpts from my crime novel, Higher Than Jesus?

Check out the All That Chazz podcast here.

Overdosing on Chazz? Learn to love me. Hear my interviews with cool people on the Cool People Podcast.

 


A Midwestern family pitted against the Apocalypse

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Revising Season 2 of This Plague of Days this evening. Here’s a bitter taste of Sutr-X. This is just before the Infected invade America.

Jack stomped on the brake and swerved to avoid a body in a narrow gap between abandoned cars. It had been a woman. Three large black birds tore into the gore of her open belly. 

Jack blasted the van’s horn. The birds backed away a few feet, but did not fly. In their retreat, the birds revealed more horror.

The dead woman lay on her back, swollen and decomposing. The corpse was too close to avoid being seen. What was seen could not be unseen. 

One eye protruded, swollen in its socket. The other eye was missing, lost to the vultures. The tongue, too, was fat and stuck out at an angle from the yawning maw. Then Jack spotted something worse…

Episode 4 is out now. Get each of episodes for 99 cents each or grab all of Season One for a discount of just $3.99.

Episode 4 is out now. Get each of episodes for 99 cents each or grab all of Season One for a discount of just $3.99.

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead
An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

 


Why This Plague of Days is a serial (and click on for a secret)

(Author’s Note: The following article is about why I serialized This Plague of Days. If you came for a secret revealed that isn’t a spoiler, The Link for the Curious is at the bottom of this post.)

Dickens wrote serials. So did Hemingway. Much of television is based on the serial format. The formula for reader satisfaction is pretty straightforward: hook ’em and give them some play but keep them on the line. Give readers rising tension and cliffhangers and you have a story that keeps them coming back week to week.

When I worked in traditional publishing, the model was much different: 

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get it week to week for a scary summer or get the whole season.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get it week to week for a scary summer or get the whole season.

One launch date; blitz all media all at once; concentrate the push within the first couple of weeks of launch; watch all efforts either win or peter out as bookstores sent back their inventory returns a few weeks later.

Here’s what’s different about This Plague of Days:

It has six launch dates; five episodes per season sold at 99 cents each; or get the whole book immediately at a discount (just $3.99) and find out what happens to my autistic boy and my uber-villain.

The change in the publishing model

Amazon used to work something like old world publishing in that you could marshal your forces and do a book bomb. A book bomb is where you get everyone you know to buy your book on Amazon at 2 pm on a Tuesday. The way it used to work, the algorithms would boost your book up the charts. Once the Mighty Zon recognized that was what some people were doing, they changed the algorithm to push those books down as fast as they rose. 

Now I know drip marketing is the best way to go (as I learned from David Gaughran, author of Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible).  Amazon algorithms favor book sales over time. It’s still great to get a big X of sales over a short Y amount of time, but Amazon likes sales consistency, not stabs in the dark that can’t be sustained.

Serials can sustain. With each episode serving as a sample to encourage readers to go ahead and buy the full Season One (and Season Two comes out in September) I feel like I haven’t even begun to reach new readers. When you launch one book, it feels like the date comes and goes quickly. Maybe you make an impact, but it feels like one kick at the can. After that, you’re repeating yourself and boring potential new readers. (What? He’s still on about that book he published all the way back in June?)

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

Serialization allows me to keep talking unselfconsciously. I have new launch dates, new material, and new information. I give readers a lot to look forward to.

What’s more? 

I didn’t skimp on the episodes. Many serials give 10,000 words per episode. My episodes run 20-25,000 words. I wanted to be generous and give them lots of action.

Also? This Plague of Days is like two books in one! This is a zombie apocalypse with a contemplative side. At its heart is a boy with autism who sees the world very differently. So yes, there’s tension and creepiness and fast zombie action and an international thriller. There’s also a family dealing with a plague from the cold comfort of their living room in a world suddenly dystopian and unfamiliar.

Not all mysteries will be solved in Season One. A very important story arc in This Plague of Days is fooling readers right now! 

Many authors experimented with serialization. It didn’t work well for them. Perhaps they were ahead of their time. Perhaps there were other variables that didn’t fall into place. I modelled what successful authors were doing and added length to the episodes to give bang for the buck. Then Amazon came out with its serials program and I felt like the biggest brains in publishing blessed the model I adopted.

If you haven’t bought Season One yet, there’s a secret I’m prepared to reveal now.

Not only did I serialize This Plague of Days, I did something no traditional publisher would have allowed.

If you want to know that secret (and see the new video)…if you are One of The Blessed Curious, click here.


This Plague of Days: The action rises. London falls.

See the end of the world through the eyes of an autistic boy. You’ll begin to see everything differently.

Please click the cover to learn more.

TPOD Episode 3

 


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