Tag Archives: writing

Have you picked up the TPOD Omnibus to get a free book yet?

Several times a day, new readers get a free book because they read This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition.

I’m still offering the Omnibus (that’s three full novels of the complete trilogy) listed at the low price of just $4.99.

To claim the free book, readers go to a secret YouTube link at the back of the book, answer a simple question and send me an email address. I haven’t asked anyone to sign up for a newsletter or anything. Readers get the new book delivered to them immediately via Amazon. Easy-peasy.

But you know what the best part of the giveaway is?

Hearing directly from happy readers! I need reviews of my books, of course, but it’s also been truly wonderful and educational. It’s wonderful to hear how readers engaged with a mystery that is sifted through the story. I’ve got so much feedback now that I can say with confidence that the plot worked effectively the way I hoped it would. It’s also educational in that, with a little pull and a push, I’ve hearing from a lot of readers who wouldn’t ordinarily leave a review. (Again, I need those happy reviews and encourage them but the comments I’m getting are fun, too.)

It’s also fun to reward new readers with something unexpected, both in the major plot twist of This Plague of Days and in my latest thriller, Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes. (There are only three reviews of that one as I write this, but they are three of my favorite reviews of all time! Check them out here.)

I hope new readers will dig what I’m doing with my books and, heads up, if you liked This Plague of Days, you’re going to love my next book.

The truth is, I had a time travel book in the editorial pipeline, but, to be honest, it’s not ready for primetime yet. The time travel novel is a very complicated story and I can’t let anything come farther down the editorial pipe until I’m satisfied with it. It’s on hold for now until I can rework it. So let me tell you something about my next book, The Haunting Lessons.

A publisher approached me about contributing to an anthology. I was interested, but I wasn’t sure about the subject matter. It had a supernatural theme that I did not groove on. Still, it kept me awake nights in much the same way This Plague of Days did. How could I take the familiar and give it a nipple twist to make it work? I never want to do the expected. When I figured it out, I couldn’t wait to get the first draft down. 

This one is a lot of fun. It has a strong female protagonist with a quirky sense of humor. Here’s the deal:

The Haunting Lessons is about a girl from Iowa named Tamara Smythe. After a shocking and tragic accident, she discovers she has acquired supernatural powers. She reveals the truth which, of course, lands her in a mental hospital. Not for long. Soon she moves to New York to begin a new, better life and to forget the past. Instead, she runs straight into a supernatural war.

The hook is ghosts. The twist is demons. The Haunting Lessons is a heartfelt and funny training manual for any who would join the fight to save the future for humanity. Forget winter. Armageddon is coming and it’s Hell hot.

This one is shorter and has a faster pace than This Plague of Days. I love TPOD, of course. Remember, I don’t let anything out of the bunker unless I love it. But the jokes and action in The Haunting Lessons come faster and are packed tighter. This Plague of Days was, in part, an homage to Stephen King’s The StandI don’t know what to compare The Haunting Lessons to, though there is a tiny influence of Harry Potter and not a little Hunger Games in there, I suppose. But with more jokes. And swords. Lots of swords! This is apocalyptic fiction with a paranormal twist that takes the story in a fun and funny direction (with just enough tragedy to make it matter.)

You’re really going to like Tamara Smythe. I’m hoping to have it ready in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, be sure to finish the Omnibus before New Year’s Eve when the offer of the gift of Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes runs its course. (Sorry, can’t give a novel away free forever!)

 

 

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#NaNoWriMo Sneak Peek at the latest WIP

In the book I’m working on now, Tamara Smythe suffers a tragedy and a paranormal world, once hidden, opens up to her. Now she’s in New York, touring a secret society’s fortress in the middle of Brooklyn: 

The top of the wall was just wide enough for two people to stroll abreast. Shards of broken glass and crosses lined the top of the stone parapet.

“This is our bailey,” Victor said. “It’s the outer wall of our little castle. One of New York’s first Roman Catholic churches once stood here and this rampart kept men out of the nunnery. That’s the legend. I think it’s true. This is our sanctuary from the war.”

“No sentries on your castle wall?”

Victor looked pleased. “Observant. Good. Most unusual. People rarely see what’s in front of them. Fewer still think to ask what is missing.”

“I watch a lot of Game of Thrones.”

“What’s that?”

I thought of the armoury and the Blade Room, stocked with so many swords. “It’s kind of like your life, Victor. You’re just short one handsome little person and a lot of gratuitous nudity.”

I think this new book will be a nice follow-up to TPOD. It has fun supernatural elements plus funny pop culture references readers have come to expect from the crime novels. Some of it reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except Tamara doesn’t really have superpowers. She’s smart and strong, but other than that she has the same experience of anyone who can see dead people walk the earth. Oh, and there’s a war coming and she’s out to save humanity, between working shifts at a funeral home, picking up and dropping off corpses.

This one is going to be a lot of fun.

~ Check out the podcasts and books by Robert Chazz Chute at AllThatChazz.com.


Is science fiction’s view of the future too dark?

I just listened to the C-Realm Podcast in which the question arose, is dystopian science fiction merely hip cynicism? (The “C” stands for consciousness.)

What happened to the utopian visions of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek? His future eliminated poverty while the remakes by JJ Abrams are about fighting terrorism. It’s a fascinating question well explored on the C-Realm Podcast, though my answer is, by necessity, going to sound a tad grumpy.

I think of myself as a suspense writer first, but zombies and vampires are generally thought of as horror and post-apocalyptic books are classified under science fiction on Amazon. Call it science fantasy if you want, but the story crawls into paranormal and supernatural, too, so it’s Genre-of-the-Moment Slugfest.

But is my vision (gasp) cynical?

Are zombies a hipster fad of which we should be ashamed? Can’t sci-fi lead the way as a predictor of glittering tech advances instead of dwelling on how we’re all going to die long before each person on Earth gets their very own sex robot? 

Every cynic thinks he or she is a realist, but first, I want to back up and say that Roddenberry’s visions weren’t always so rosy. I think the stories on Star Trek that succeeded for me were the war stories. Humans versus Klingons and The Wrath of Khan (the story itself the death of a utopian dream) held my attention. However, it’s probably true that the franchise got darker and grittier after Roddenberry’s death. Deep Space Nine had some of the Enterprise’s nifty IKEA furniture, but the quarters were more cramped and the lighting less cheery.

That said, I see what they’re saying on C-Realm. They credit Blade Runner as a leader in dystopian visions, at least in film. That’s a far cry from the gee whiz optimism of many sci-fi writers from decades past. We all need a little more Spider Robinson in our lives.

In the ’70s we had Omni magazine trumpeting the hope for the future of science and science fiction. For instance, they featured a graphic artist who created stunning spacescapes. It was truly beautiful art that only actual images from the Hubble telescope could replace. It was the artist’s policy never to paint any picture in which two spaceships engaged in battle. That’s admirable, yes, but it kind of sucks the dramatic potential out of a lot of fiction, kind of like taking the visual majesty and volleys of flaming arrows out of the battle scenes in Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, and asking, can’t we all just get along and make this a cozy comedy of manners? Is that beheading with all the blood spray on the wall really necessary?

Optimistic visions of the future in fiction make me think of Paul and Linda McCartney asking Weird Al Yankovic to refrain from a making a cover of Live and Let Die. Weird Al did not release Chicken Pot Pie out of respect for the former Beatle’s wishes. Longtime vegetarians, Paul and Linda worried a comedic song would worsen the commercial slaughter of chickens. It probably would have. Thinking about it makes me want a chicken pot pie right now. I also think Weird Al’s song would have been awesome.

But to the question, is science fiction’s tone too relentlessly dark?

The C-Realm host and guest offered the movie Her as an antidote to our dour visions of the future. There is something very alluring about a story that cranks up Iron Man‘s personal digital companion, J.A.R.V.I.S., to Level Scarlett Johansson Sexy. (J.A.R.V.I.S. stands for Just a Rather Very Intelligent System, by the way. Siri would have been cooler if Apple had called it J.A.R.V.I.S., though Siri has yet to live up to the J.A.R.V.I.S standard of service, reporting on my armour’s structural integrity and whatnot.) Actually, Iron Man’s inventions (as long as they don’t fall into the wrong hands) might be the most optimistic vision of the future you’ll see on screen this year, besides Her.

The darkness in our fiction lies not in our stars but in ourselves.

We write from the heart, or at least I do. A future where we’re overrun by a world flu pandemic is actually considered long overdue by virologists. (Could happen next week. Pack a linch and wear a sweater.) My zombies aren’t real zombies and my vampires aren’t real vampires. They are humans infected with a virus that changes their physiology. There are supernatural elements in This Plague of Days, but once you’re dead, you don’t get up again in the world I’ve built. It looks a lot like our world.

But is it too dark? Well, it is dark.

Some of the events go from creepy to downright grisly. There are also jokes. I even include a few optimistic touches toward the end. However, I am allergic to Happily Ever After. I promise a satisfying ending and resolutions you don’t expect, but Happily Ever After often seems too pat and easy to me.

And that’s the crux of it.

My vision for the future springs from what I see now, not what could be if we really believe and clap our hands. If George Orwell hadn’t already written 1984, I’d attempt to write that. Drones, surveillance and the NSA cracking everyone’s porn privacy? That’s a dream straight out of an adolescent Big Brother’s wet bed. Because I’ve mentioned them and they’re always googling vainly, say hello! Hi, NSA! (Waves.) Just a writer spouting on the state of science fiction and the future. Nothing to see here. Move along to checking up on the sex lives of your former girlfriends and boyfriends from high school! Thank you! Also, please go catch a real terrorist with a suitcase dirty bomb. Aces.

Back on topic

I was promised jet packs when I was as kid (a fixation that’s shared widely, I think, since it’s also mentioned on C-Realm.) I’m still disappointed about that. No…bitter is the word. And yes, all the endless toil minus robots is a downer.

When we see the space shuttle in the promo reel before the movie trailers? I always think, We don’t even make those anymore! There is no Omni magazine heralding gee-whiz hope and they plan to shut Hubble down! And a trip to Mars? Sounds like a stupid suicide mission to me, especially when we could solve a lot of world problems with the money we’d waste on going to the red planet. (Think of Mars as the worst parts of Arizona, but without oxygen. To be fair, at least Mars doesn’t go out of its way to try to suppress gay rights, so there’s that.)

If my fiction appears cynical, all I can say is it comes from an honest place. Dark visions are the logical extensions of my worldview. Ideas about a cheery, brighter future would be a nice diversion and uplifting to be sure. However, I’m more interested in drama rising from conflicts I observe in the present. There’s something about those cheery futures which reek of white privilege to me. I’m not going hungry and I’ve got a cell phone (made by slaves) so why can’t we envision a future that amps up all that gee-whiz hope?

Because it doesn’t feel real, that’s why. Because we’re still stuck in stupid wars. Because the logical extension of now is more darkness. My fiction is dark because, as a person of conscience who listens to Democracy Now a lot, my worldview really is that dark.

Yes, I do give glimmers of hope here and there in This Plague of Days.

But the price at which that hope is bought — in both human lives and sacrifice — is very high indeed. I guess it sounds silly to talk about verisimilitude in a story about an autistic boy versus zombies versus vampires. But every emotion and conflict within the Spencer family at the end of the world feels very real to me. Joy, redemption, love, hope and loss is all there. I think of it as To Kill a Mockingbird, but with more zombies and even more child endangerment. For a zombie apocalypse, there’s a startling lack of gunfire in This Plague of Days. I think there are plenty of apocalyptic books that read like Rambo married an army manual and I attempt to do something different with all my fiction.

This Plague of Days is silly, escapist fiction (for the thinking reader with a conscience, I hope)…but I write it real.

I write what I see. And I concede, I do wish I could be more hopeful.

 

~ Season Three, and the conclusion of This Plague of Days by Robert Chazz Chute hits Spring 2014. Catch up on Season One and Two here.


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 6): Why do we have to wait so long?

There are few things more pleasing for a writer than having people anxiously await your next book. It’s very cool and I do appreciate it. As someone rightly pointed out, “Hey! This Plague of Days is taking off and you’re writing another book that’s unrelated? Wouldn’t it be smarter to get to Season 3 faster, before you’re forgotten? Get Season 3 done now and write the other thing later.”

To paraphrase Alanis Morrisette, “That’s good advice I just can’t take.” 

The new book is pretty much written. I’m combing through it now. It’s funny and touching and quirky and, well, sort of like everything else I write, I suppose. The hero is another 17-year-old boy. (I don’t know why. I just type what the voices tell me.) It’s not horror. This one is another big book, but it’s my coming-of-age thriller. There is almost-sex, drugs and a kid trying to become a movie star in New York.

It’s pretty ambitious and it’s about ambition. It’s about learning how to be free in a world that’s quick to stomp on that impulse. It’s about love of family and how that can hurt you. I love the protagonist, Romeo Basilon. He doesn’t have much going for him. He’s smart, but poor. His mother’s an alcoholic. He gets suspended from school a lot. He’s a hick kid who finds himself in New York and he wants to be like his hero, actor John Leguizamo.

It’s dark and fun and I’m doing a few things with this you’ve probably never seen before. And yeah, there’s a Shakespearian component to this journey to love and self-discovery. I do strange.

And I needed a break from This Plague of Days to do something very different.

I had to air out the house and put fresh oil and gas in the storytelling engine. The work on TPOD made for a very intense summer. As I start up another business and juggle all the things I have to do, I had to put the Spencers on the back burner for just a little bit. There’s no intern here helping me out with the formatting, reformatting, printers, and oh-my-god-I’m-sorry-I-started-thinking-about-this-at-MIDNIGHT!

But rest assured, I already have 35,000 words of Season 3 written. I know what’s coming. We’ve been building to several big showdowns for the first two seasons. It will be fun to get back on the autistic zombie ride, reveal a big secret and do the to-do.

Season One was The Siege. Season Two was The Quest. Season Three will be The War. Some characters we love will die. Others will transform and transcend. Season Three will be filled with great moments, so join me as I put out something a little lighter and fun. I’m anxious to tell you more, but I better go finish it first.

Oh! And a question for you!

Huge thanks to all who have taken the time to review! We’re up to 43 reviews on Season One and already at 10 reviews on Season Two! TPOD S2 is still cruising a couple of bestseller lists (post-apocalyptic and dystopian.)

If the popularity keeps going, I might not release Season Three as a serial and I’ll just put it out there. (The reasoning is, by now, more people will just buy the complete season. Anybody got any thoughts on that? I’m open to readers’ opinions. You are the boss of me.

Much love,

Chazz


This Plague of Days: How long does it take to destroy the world? (Q & A Part 5)

If you’re out to destroy the world, it starts with trying to save it. Right now, frozen in the refrigerated vaults, are enough nerve toxins, viruses and bacilli to kill us all and make way for the rise of the insects. We keep this stuff around for research purposes, or in some cases, nefarious purposes. We hope they (whoever “they” are) have that stuff locked down, just like the brainiacs and experts were so sure Fukishima would be safe forever.

But we know concrete doesn’t hold forever. If it did, nuclear waste disposal wouldn’t be such a worry. Terrorists are mostly idiots, but with the explosion of earth’s population, we slowly get more geniuses and a few will be evil geniuses. Even if you trust your government, do you trust the construction specs on a biological weapons vault in Pakistan, India, Russia or insert your choice of any nation here?

Mistakes happen. Back up systems fail, as they did in Three Mile Island, Fukishima and Chernobyl and 9/11. Involve a human, and eventually something will mess up. Entropy is a law and it is certain. The Way of Things always wins.

Not scared yet? If you aren’t concerned, my friends and fiends, I don’t understand why not.

How long did it take you to destroy the world, Chazz?

A few seconds of a few mistakes lined up in a row and viruses will eat us from the inside, rotting out. But writing it? Writing takes longer.

I wrote the first incarnation of This Plague of Days working three or four hours a day over ten or eleven months, falling mostly in 2010. The second draft took another four months and getting Season One and Two prepped for publication added another three months or so. It started out as such a contemplative novel. When I decided that could never sell, I made it less Canadian.

I had planned to write another crime novel instead of This Plague of Days. Deeper Than Jesus will be my third novel about my luckless Cuban hit man, Jesus Diaz. However, when I realized I was writing a funny, dark, kick-ass story in a low-demand genre, I went back to killer viruses and confronting mortality. Running out of time and money before I had to return to my old job, I was determined to write something somebody would really care about. The people who love Jesus (Diaz) love him a lot, but there aren’t enough of them yet.

I love writing full-time. I’ve had a very productive two years devoted exclusively to writing and podcasts.

My new business should still allow me writing time. I’m determined to make my new schedule work. In a few weeks, I’ll be back working in the same office I worked in fourteen years ago. In some ways, it feels like moving backwards, but I’ve got kids. We do what we must and, though physically taxing, it’s not a bad job (more on that another time). 

This Plague of Days is really taking off and I’ve sold more books in the last ten days than I’ve sold in two years. (Thank you, Plague lovers!) That sounds great, but I have to make up for two years of not working at all and never getting ahead. I’m not complaining, but I am being real. I have many more books to write. To do that, I have to keep the lights on. Most writers have day jobs and I’m thankful for my opportunities. Without the specific skill sets I have, I don’t know what I’d do for a living. I’m otherwise unemployable, chronically underemployed and I’ve got way too much sass in me to endure a boss (or for them to tolerate me.) I pretty much have to work for myself. While the control freak in me insists on excellence and piece work, the real world keeps sending me bills for the Internet connection.

This next evolution is going to be an interesting experiment. 

Just like what I did with my Cuban hit man and with zombies, I’m taking a familiar model and doing something new and different with it. It’s exciting and stressful and draining and energizing, depending on the time of day and what I’m thinking about.

We do what we have to do, but whatever you do, please keep the creativity in.

Find ways to make it interesting and fun. If you work on the line, sing. If you’re on the drive-through window wearing a hairnet, be funny and entertain co-workers and customers alike. If you can’t lose the job but your boss insists you be a drone, act the part. Play the role. The boss will never know you’re giving him respect ironically. Be the robot on the outside. Inside your skull no one owns you. Inside, we are all free.

We are sharks. We move forward or we die. Don’t die. I need the readers.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. Check out my podcasts and buy the books at AllThatChazz.com. Episode 2 of Season 2 drops Monday, or just get Season One and Two and bang, you’re watching the end of the world through an autistic boy’s eyes.


This is the post I shouldn’t write. I shouldn’t, therefore I must.

This is me, overexposed.

This is me, overexposed.

Years ago, before I got into book publishing the first time (working for Toronto’s book elite) I suffered several romantic and erroneous notions about the enterprise. I didn’t think there’d be so many useless sales meetings with thieving idiots. I didn’t know some bookstore owners could be so rude to sales reps. I certainly didn’t know some book publicists could be so self-important or that so many publishers could be so dense. The thing about venality is, no matter the profession, the douchebag distribution is spread pretty evenly. We’re all humans with all the awful and wonderful variables that entails. 

Later, as a writer, I hoped there’d be long periods of solitude followed by parties with fun, literate people. I wanted witty repartee and cocktails. Unqualified adoration was also on the fantasy menu. I wish the writing and publishing community was like that. If that ever existed, it was probably sprinkled among the ex-pats in Paris, with a drunk-too-early-in-the-evening Hemingway being mean to Fitzgerald in the corner. But then I’d have to listen to Gertrude Stein. (To read her is irritating, but if you listen to her recordings, it’s much funnier than it’s supposed to be.) 

In reality, there aren’t so many bon mots flying around. Wit is one of the things fiction is for. That’s why life doesn’t rise to the heights of Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, damn it.

Now, years later, publishing still isn’t what I hoped for at twenty. 

I published Season Two just last night! You’d think I’d be high, right? The gap between expectations and reality can be a deep hole and I’ve fallen in. As Queen sang, “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.” I’m being a baby about variables I don’t control. Inside a book, I control everything. Outside the book? Not so much.

Today I got upset about the costs and flaming hoops I have to jump through to start another business to try to pay the bills. I felt a stab of irritation when someone referred to Season One as a nice “mini-novel”: 106,000 words and years in the making, casually dismissed with a stranger’s shrug. “Mini.” Hmph! And the person who enjoyed This Plague of Days but acted like I was asking for charity for charging $3.99? If I charged any less, I wouldn’t be the one asking for charity, would I? My life and aspirations and hours of entertainment, worth less than couch change. 

Here’s the feeling of entitlement no writer should ever admit (but we all think): I just want to write.

It’s the whine inside every writer, but there it is dragged out and ugly in sunlight, hoping for points for honesty. For two years, writing, publishing and podcasting are all I’ve done. These have been two of the best years of my life. Funny that I’m starting to get some traction with This Plague of Days now, just before returning to the other work. My story arc might have turned out happier if it had been shorter, with a faster rise. There are no overnight successes, but we all cry for one, hoping to be the outlier who somehow gets picked up and carried in pop culture’s pocket to a sunlit writing nook where all the world asks of us is, “More words, please!” 

I know what this is. I’ve been here before. I felt the same way after publishing Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus and Murders Among Dead Trees and Self-help for Stoners. This is a touch of postpartum depression.

The years, months and days leading up to publishing a book? All braingasms all the time!

I’m better in fiction, hiding behind my keyboard, than I am in this world. In the real world, I pretend to be an extrovert. Only while writing am I most myself. Writing stimulates the synapses in ways nothing else can. To see and make connections, to juggle language, to slip a joke in amidst horror like a twist to the blade slid between ribs? Each fun creation, moment to moment, delivers braingasms. I’m in the brain tickle business. When I say that, people assume I’m talking about tickling readers’ brains. (I do, but me first!)

 At play in another world, nobody needs cocktail parties, big publishers and expensive book launches for validation. More readers and happy reviews are validation. Writing is about the dopamine drip your brain gets when you’re creating. It’s about giggling over the joke you’re sure only a few readers will get and keeping it in the text anyway, a special easter egg, hidden just for them to find.

In acts of creation we emulate the best any God could offer. Writing makes me high. In the reading, I hope to make you high, too. I want to be your mind candy, Candy Man.

There is only one solution to my happy brain drug deficiency.

I see word and people connections everywhere. Everything I take in goes into the neural playscape of the mind’s amusement park. Each factoid goes to the manufacture of the drug. The answer to my postpartum depression is to have another baby. I don’t need a massive book launch. I need to write. 

Looking around, I see my personal post-apocalypse everywhere. Looking up, I find This Plague of Days has appeared in the warm light at the lip of the hole. Season Three is my ladder out of this dark place. 

The two most powerful words are, “Begin again.” And so…


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 1)

Someone asked, “How far along are you on Season Three?”

Thanks for the question and your enthusiasm. Season Two isn’t even out yet! October 1 is Tuesday! It’s going to be fun.

The heavy answer is, I know how the serial ends and I have 35,000 words of Season 3 so far. (Season One was 106,000 words and Season Two is about 80,000.)

Season Three will be between 80,000-90,000 words. Here are the chapter titles so far, as they appear in my writing program:

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 12.46.26 PM

The bonus is something I was going to include at the end of Season One, but my beta readers talked me out of it. That’s a good thing. You can read it below on this site, anyway, if you’re interested.

As you can see, Season 2, Episode 5 got moved around and then down into this list. 

The “BRILLIANT IDEA”? Can’t tell you that, but it came to me over dinner one night that I knew how the war would be lost, won and/or solved in a way that isn’t a cliche. Cliches are tough to avoid in this genre sometimes, but the solutions and resolutions need to be unique in This Plague of Days. More crowbars and machine guns? Not the answer. Not in TPOD, anyway.

By my lights, there’s enough gunplay in Seasons One and Two, but as with my crime novels, I’m more interested in killing people in clever ways. 

And see the file marked “ODDS”. As I write, rewrite and edit, a lot of stuff comes to me that I like and can’t bring myself to use or delete. I stuff all those bits into the ODDS file, probably never to be seen again. I’m a bit of a hoarder. I collect books, dictionaries and neuroses.

Got a question? Email me at expartepress@gmail.com.


This Plague of Days: Influences on Season Two (and me!)

Want a hint at what happens next? Okay.

The Sutr virus is still evolving.

This isn’t a complete list of influences, but when I think of who and what influences the development of This Plague of Days, here’s what pops to mind:

1. After reading Blake Crouch’s Run, I wrote two fast-paced crime novels (Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus.) Season One was a slower build and burn. Season Two is closer to that pell mell pacing.

2. William Goldman (Marathon Man, the Princess Bride et al) influences all my writing. He’s the master of the surprise reversal. I’m telling you there will be plenty of surprises in Season Two of This Plague of Days. Knowing in advance won’t help.

3. Neil Gaiman. When you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. In the realm you’re about to enter, that which is named is manifested.

4. Your reviews. I won’t lie. I’m exhausted. Typical days run sixteen hours at least, especially in the last month as I prepare the new season. On those busy days, the work continues even into sleep with lucid dreaming. Those happy reviews kept me excited to keep going and push through to make my deadline. Thank you!

5. My Chemical Romance. The Black Parade is on a continuous loop. If you don’t know their scream-o music, how I envy you. “Mama” is especially appropriate. (I listen to Everlast while writing crime novels.)

6. Podcasts and Kurt Vonnegut’s nerve. I listen to The Young Turks, The Best of the Left and dozens of other podcasts. So, yeah, I believe the military-industrial (and corporate) complex is the devil President Eisenhower warned us about. Do I get preachy about it? I don’t think so. Vonnegut let his worldview slip into his books. I believe I cram it in sideways without being too intrusive on the story. Heck, it’s part of the story and many viewpoints are expressed. The world as it is informs the plot. Kurt Vonnegut was a disappointed humanist. He believed in human potential and noticed when the world fell short of those ideals. Put that label on me, too.

7. Comedians. I love them. Even amid the horror, perhaps especially in horror, there’s room for jokes.

8. Movies. I have an eidetic memory for movie quotes and if you’ve read my crime novels, you’ll spot the obsession. I grew up working in a video store and I’ve seen more movies than the average bear. In the character of Aadi, it pops into TPOD. Also, the visuals in This Plague of Days are very cinematic. Yes, I’m considering a screenplay.

9. Kale shakes. I think clearer on kale shakes.

10. Mom. My mother is dead now, but I inherited her obsession with words early on. My mother had hidden talents. Besides brilliant stock analysis, she was a code breaker. Every day we’d crack the newspaper’s cryto-quote together. She was unnaturally fast at pattern recognition. Also, the house was full of books. That’s where I got my love of reading, through her osmotic obsession. I still read dictionaries for fun and can lose myself in them for hours at a time. My quirky hero in This Plague of Days understand each other.

11. Pathology. I studied it. It comes up a lot in details. When I studied human anatomy, I was in awe of the organic machine. When I studied pathology, I got freaked out about all that can go wrong with our bodies. That’s how I studied my way into becoming a hypochondriac.

Season Two launches October 1. The complete season will be available then (at a discounted price) For those who prefer to take it in week by week, it will be available as a serial starting October 7. 

If you aren’t already on board the crazy train, check out the sample of Season One of This Plague of Days at the link.


Season 2 of This Plague of Days: Behind the scenes in the final polish and hitting #9

The first This Plague of Days t-shirt! Creepy, huh?

The first This Plague of Days t-shirt! Creepy, huh?

 

I’m feeling a bit bad for my beta readers. They slog through my typos and make their suggestions, but it feels like it’s the final polish where things really come together. Unless they go through the book again, they’ll miss some of the little surprises and tweaks that enter at very late stages in the process. I’ve received some nice feedback from advanced reading copies and I’m grateful to the team at Ex Parte Press. The truth is, if I didn’t set a deadline to get the new book out there (October 1!) I’d fiddle with it forever. Past a certain point, polishing becomes procrastination.

Still the lure of playing with scenes and rhymes and words is strong.

Like Jaimie, I fall into dictionaries and share his fascination with collective nouns. Who decided on a murder of crows? A tower of giraffes? A bubble of goldfish? There are three collective nouns for wasps alone! Jaimie’s word addiction is woven into the story, so of course I had to include all three for wasps (i.e. nest, pail, pladge.) You can look up that last one on the web, but Google will insist you’re asking about the word “pledge”.

Yesterday, I became so entranced with the word “pandemonium” I wrote a new paragraph for Jaimie’s analysis. I posted it on Facebook so I could get that instant approval I crave so much. That need is rather pathetic and possibly pathological, but it’s one of the main reasons I do what I do. (Be my friend of Facebook here and you’ll see it in the timeline on September 20.)

More good news

I rarely have good news. Sunny optimism is not me. However, today I engaged two strangers in conversation and told them to have a beautiful day, despite the thunderstorms and local flooding. 

This Plague of Days, Season One roared up three Top 100 lists (Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic on kindle and higher in Dystopian books.) I don’t even understand that last one because it’s not available in paperback yet.

Even better, TPOD hit #9 across all of Amazon yesterday.

This was a huge milestone for me. I’d hit #1 on free sub-lists before, but this was my catapult moment, even if it spiked to #9 for only an hour. I couldn’t believe it. I got misty. I’ve dreamed of this many people reading my books as long as I can remember! The giveaway was a great success! Extra thank yous to the three new reviewers who ate up Season One as soon as they got it. As my British friends would say, “I’m chuffed!”

Thank you so much to everyone who helped, clicked, read and reviewed.

Special thanks to She Who Must Be Obeyed and my awesome cover designer, Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. Plus, horror author of Dying Days and cool guy Armand Rosamilia provided a new cover blurb for Season 2!

And now, I should get back to the polish.

Have a beautiful day! This is my best day in years.

FYI: That T-shirt design will undoubtedly make the cut for giveaways, promotions and sales. Just focussing on giving Season 2 at the moment. Lots more TPOD action coming your way soon.


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.

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The All That Chazz podcast returns next week!

 


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