With Freelance Editor & Humor Author, Chuck Sambuchino
The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all.
My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.
Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!
Our contestant this week is Chuck Sambuchino, former longtime editor for Writer’s Digest, now freelance, author, and authority on how to get published and build your author platform.
Below are his list of categories from A – Z and his answers off the top of his head.
BAND INSTRUMENT: Trombone
CARTOON CHARACTER: Ultra Magnus
EVERY CHILD: deserves safety and love.
FAVORITE FOOD: Chicken Fingers
GARDEN FEATURE: Gnomes!
ICE CREAM FLAVOR: Heavenly Hash
JAMMING SONG: “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction
KITCHEN ITEM: Fork
LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU): Sassy humor, a little on the dark side
NUMBER OF BOOKS READ THIS YEAR: Between 10 and 20
ONOMATOPOEIA WORD: Buzz
PICKLES (YES OR NO): Hell no.
‘Q’ WORD: Quick
ROCK BAND: Van Halen
SYNONYM FOR AWESOME: tubular
UNIQUE COLOR: Burnt Sienna
WORDS OF WISDOM: Enjoy your youth.
X (word that begins with): Xerxes. “Pharoah coulda saved your ass.”
YOUNG ADULT BOOK: Rats Saw God
ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE: Get obsessed with pickleball.
ME: Immediately after I read your answers, I thought of your three hilariously tubular books:
I have read them all. In theaters now is the cinema remake of Stephen King’s IT which correlates with WHEN CLOWNS ATTACK: A SURVIVAL GUIDE. Did Stephen’s book have any part in you creating your clown book?
CS: Ohhh yes. I saw “It” (the TV miniseries) when I was about ten, and it scared for me at least a decade. My parents had no business letting me see that film when I was so young. It traumatized me. I never forgot about it. Several years ago, I pitched a book on how to survive a clown attack. The publishers passed on it. So I paid a local book designer to design a creepy mock cover for the book. Then we passed that mock cover on to same publisher, and they said, “My God, these people are HORRIFYING! We must publish this!” It was good to know my anti-clown movement touched a nerve.
ME: Many people belong to your anti-clown movement.
Onto clowning around: I didn’t know chickens had fingers. (Sorry, had to write it). Anyways, your favorite food is chicken fingers and you named Heavenly Hash as an ice cream flavor. I’ve seen numerous people dunk their chicken strips into their Frosty at Wendy’s and wondered if you do the same with chicken fingers and Heavenly Hash ice cream?
CS: Never tried it. Frankly, I love them both so much that I don’t want to mix the two. Sounds dangerous. Too risky.
ME: I agree: great as stand-alones, period. Like pickles. I don’t like them on anything. As a relish, yes, but as a pickle, no. You don’t care for pickles, yet you are obsessed with pickleball. Would you please elaborate on this?
CS: Totally different things. Pickles are icky. Pickleball, which is a sport similar to tennis, is addictive and awesome. If you’re looking for a sport to get involved in, look online for local pickleball leagues.
ME: Thank you for the explanation. Honestly, I had never heard of pickleball until I read your answer. I had to look it up to make sure you weren’t pulling my leg.
I noticed on your category sheet you didn’t answer HISTORICAL FIGURE. But when I read your list further, you had named one: Xerxes. Xerxes 1, also called Xerxes the great, was born in 519 BC as part of the Achaemenid Empire which he became fourth king of. What can you tell us about the Xerxes you quoted? My guess is he is not the same Xerxes but I could be wrong.
CS: My answer is basically a joke, which goes back to the fact that I crack jokes at any opportunity in life. My exact answer given was “Xerxes. Pharoah coulda saved your ass.” I love movies, and thus I love quoting movies. In the film Go (1999), characters are playing a game that involves naming famous figures. Someone is challenged with naming a figure that begins with the letter X but cannot name anyone. A little later, another character, chiming in, suggests Xerxes the Pharaoh, adding that this “Pharaoh coulda saved your ass.” I just always liked the line, and the movie. By the way, if you recognized that line before I explained where it was from, then you are awesome.
ME: Laughing. I do remember you having a great sense of humor when I attended your Midwest Writer’s Workshop. And, I’ll take the ‘awesome’ compliment as I did recognize the line but could not remember where from. 😊 My daughters are phenomenal remembering lines & quotes from songs and shows/movies but I do not share that talent. I am guessing you also have a talent for playing trombone?
CS: I played trombone for six years in marching band and concert band. I am Lower Brass til I die. If you were also a bando, then you are awesome.
ME: Lost my awesomeness. ☹ My spry 93 year-old neighbor says “Youth is wasted on the youth” which is similar to your words of wisdom answer. Do you agree?
CS: The exact quote is “Youth is wasted on the young,” attributed to either Shaw or Wilde, depending on who you ask. And yes, I agree. I’m at this weird age where I can see my five-year-old daughter growing up so fast and I can also see my parents growing old. I now realize that time is now more valuable than ever. I want to enjoy these years. I am getting back into sports more (pickleball!) because I don’t know how long I will be able to play with all the gusto I want. So yes, enjoy your youth.
ME: Good advice!
Using as many answers from your category sheet as you can, please write us a synopsis of a book you would like to write. And, what projects are you currently working on?
CS: Right now, I am working with my agent to prepare some kidlit nonfiction book proposals. Since I left Writer’s Digest in early 2017 (after twelve years there), I have become a full-time freelance editor. So nowadays, I help people with their books and queries instead of writing my own. (This could change, but right now this is the course and I love it.)
Very quick synopsis: “Jenny gets Van Halen to play at her Toy-Story-themed Sweet Sixteen birthday party and perform their unreleased new hit, ‘Burnt Sienna Pickleball Clowns.’ ” That’s about all I got right now.
ME: Good to know. Writing queries is not the most fun for many a writer so your services are greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much Chuck for being a contestant! Best of luck to you on your new endeavor. One last thing, where can writers find you online for your editing services and/or social media outlets?
CS: Just visit www.chucksambuchino.com. That website has details on how to contact me if you need help with your query, synopsis, proposal, or manuscript. Also, I still teach at about 12 writing conferences a year, so you can visit my website to see where I’ll be in the future and good writing conferences all around the country.
ME: As an attendee to one of Chuck’s conferences, I can affirm they are worth going to. Check out his website and see how he can be of help to you if you are a writer. And if you are looking for a great humorous read, check out one of his humor books shown above.
Readers, thank you stopping by today. Have a tubular weekend!