Category Archives: Writing

Was 2016 Cursed? On Dead Celebrities and Other Tragedies

They say the way you spend New Year’s Eve is how the rest of your year will go. I spent last New Year’s Eve cursing celebrities, plotting a series national tragedies, destroying discourse, fanning the flames of racism, and deploying dictators into positions of power. I thought it was just a harmless writing exercise.

Sorry, my bad.

2016 The Year of “I Can’t Even”

2016 has been a gauntlet of gut punches.

There have been so many police shootings of unarmed black men that the front page of CNN came with a trigger warning. There have been so many terrorist attacks the American flag stayed at half staff from one to the next. There have been so many celebrity deaths their names have to share headlines.

Then there was the US presidential election, and the day after when it felt like we woke up in the preface of teenage dystopian fantasy fiction.

Stress over Trump’s administration has become so real doctors have asked friends about it before giving them a diagnosis (not hyperbole, this actually happened). Reality TV personalities donned Hitler stashes (yup, Tila Tequila actually did this), the Klan paraded in public, and alt-righters ‘Hail-Trump’ed.

It feels like the year will keep pilling tragedies on until the clock winds down. 2016 is a leap year and worst still it’s getting an extra leap second just to rub it in. It seems like everything that could go wrong did, but can a year actually be cursed? Continue reading Was 2016 Cursed? On Dead Celebrities and Other Tragedies

We Are Living in a Dystopian Fantasy

What if the Trump administration was just the beginning of a Young Adult Fantasy story?

•••

Naomi felt like a baby in a blanket. She was swaddled, covered in drool, warm and safe. It took her a moment to realize she was wearing a straight jacket and that stiff surface beneath her wasn’t a crib, but the floor of a padded cell.

Naomi’s eyes took time adjusting to the light. The fluorescent fixtures had rainbow auras, they shined so bright they cast sunspots on the walls. The shadows swayed back and forth as her pupils shifted in and out of alignment. Finally the chamber revealed itself.

The cell was lined with a canvas with two tones: white on the top and stained at the bottom. Its cushions were lopsided from years of use. At this point the padding looked like it would do a better job protecting the walls than the patients.

Naomi’s head throbbed. It felt like a rat had burrowed beneath her brow, curled up, and started kicking the skin. It took all her strength to wrench herself up off the floor. Continue reading We Are Living in a Dystopian Fantasy

The Death of Neutrality in Trump’s America

When I started DrewChialAuthor.com my goal was to promote my horror fiction. Somewhere along the way I found writing advice pulled in more eyes than scary stories, so I adjusted the focus of the site and I saw a lot of new faces in my Twitter feed. Many of these profiles were in line with my midwestern liberal beliefs and many were hashtag-conservative. I thought it was neat that a shared passion for writing extended over ideological borders.

I figured if I stayed on topic I could make myself accessible to everyone. It didn’t matter whether readers were from a red state or a blue state, whether they were centrists or out on the fringe, all were welcome. My brand was Switzerland.

I was an advocate for storytellers: whether they were the next Marquis de Sade writing orgiastic odysseys to offend the oligarchy or the next Tom Clancy writing patriotic page turners for puritans, I didn’t care.

I was a good little brand builder. I gave advice on structure, beating writer’s block, and building an online platform. I was safe for work. I didn’t use profanity (outside of fiction) and I didn’t take politically polarizing positions. This felt suffocating when I had a strong opinion on major news events. Continue reading The Death of Neutrality in Trump’s America

How to Speed Write for National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short).

shield-nano-side-blue-brown-rgb-hires

Nearly 500,000 people participate in NaNoWriMo every year. Many are first time novelists who have decided to take the plunge, which means a lot of people are about to realize just how many hours there are in a day.

Here are some ideas to help you churn out a story as fast as possible.

Fortify Your Writing Space

The first thing you’ll to want to do is make sure that your bunker is stocked with nonperishable food items, water purification pellets, and enough Neosporin to cover a month’s worth of paper cuts. This way you can avoid the marauders that will be plundering your home in the wake of the election. Oh and once you’re several stories underground make sure your short wave radio is nowhere near the room where you’ll be writing. All those panic wrought police officers will break your concentration.

Now if you’re one of the poor souls stuck aboveground you’ll need a playlist to drown out all the screams.

I work to dark atmospheric soundtracks. This year I’ve been writing to the scores for Stranger Things, Mr. Robot, and Before the Flood (pretty much anything by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will get you in the right mood to write horror).

Scores for TV shows are perfect for writing because the composer has left space for dialogue, there’s room to hear yourself think, they’re usually slower than film scores, and there’s no lyrics to steal your attention. Continue reading How to Speed Write for National Novel Writing Month

Happiness Anxiety: How the Pursuit of Happiness Can Bring Us Down

Anxiety comes in many shades:

  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Phobia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Specific Phobias
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Panic Disorder.

Between these hues are even more subtle tones.

I’d like to explore two of the tones between General Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia. One is called “status anxiety,” a form of anxiety experts are starting to recognize, and the other is a term I call “happiness anxiety.”

What is Status Anxiety?

Status anxiety is the fear of how our social status is perceived by our community. Author Alain de Botton coined the term “status anxiety” in a book and a documentary film of the same name.

Our anxiety over our status is why we project success, confidence, and happiness when we don’t feel it. We believe people will treat us with more respect if we exude these traits. We may not feel successful, but we know the best way to get there is to fake it until we make it. It’s why we collect status symbols to show off our value.

In and of itself the Apple Watch is a glorified fitness tracker, but as a material merit badge that slick LCD watch face tells the world we’ve got money to spare.

De Botton claims status symbols, like the Apple Watch, extend beyond our fashion sense into the items that adorn our homes, the degrees we’ve earned, our career titles, our social network notoriety, the relationships we’re in, and the meaningful milestones we’ve gathered through the years.

De Botton believes our endless quest for treasures and trophies is actually a hunt for love and approval and our anxiety over status will persist long after our animal needs are met.  Continue reading Happiness Anxiety: How the Pursuit of Happiness Can Bring Us Down

Drew Chial’s Halloween Short Story Showcase

Here is a sampling of my finest short horror stories and Halloween posts to get you in the mood for the season.

The Smilers: A Horror Story About Happy People

The Smilers Logo

A story about pleasantry pushing pod people in the spirit of the Twilight Zone.

The Inspiration Killers: A Story about Monsters that Prey on Creativity

Shadow Play

What if there were evil spirits that targeted artists?

I Am Fire: A Story about a Game of Truth or Flare

6. Man Made of Fire

Why you should never call a teenage witch a basic bitch.

Shop Dropping: A Spooky Story about People Who Put Things on Retail Shelves

Infinite Book

What happens when a clerk follows a shoplifter to find they were leaving mysterious items behind?

Death Hacks: Tricks to Make Your Afterlife More Fun

Ghost Portrait

Pro tips on how to get the most out of being a ghost.

#Unblessed: A Scary Story Told 140 Characters At a Time

Unblessed

Read a cursed man’s final 40 tweets.

Slender Man’s Rival

Slender Man
Slender Man

When the internet gave birth to Slender Man it gave birth to something else as well.

The Haunting of My Love Life

Bleeding Heart
Bleeding Heart

A short story about when haunted house builders go too far.

The War on Halloween

2. Hands Up

You’ve heard of the War on Christmas, but have you heard of the War on Halloween? This is a letter from a concerned demon.

The Monster Mashup: Classic Monsters Gone Wrong

Frankenstein's Monster
Frankenstein’s Monster

Can I turn four classic monsters into the butt of the same dirty joke? You bet I can.

The Monster Mashup Part 2

Nosferatu
Nosferatu

What happens when you take modern monsters out of their element? Something totally wrong. Enjoy.

Barkley Carver, World’s Most Prolific Hack Writer, Teaches the Craft

Become the Supervisor of Your Own Fiction Factory

Anyone can be an author. It doesn’t matter your age, academic background, or nationality, you have what it takes to write the great American novel.

Forget what you’ve heard. You don’t need to be born to successful writers with roots in New York or Los Angeles, you don’t need a knack for grammar, talent, or luck. You just need to learn the tricks of trade from a master of the craft.

Barkley Carver, pilot, and credited author of 15 books to debut on the New York Times bestsellers list, reveals his winning formula for franchise fiction (for the first time under his current pen name). In this online class, he guides you through every aspect of writing a serviceable novel, from finding cold cases to base your mysteries on to getting New York’s Department of Health to grant you access to the divorce records so you can see which publishers are on the rebound. Continue reading Barkley Carver, World’s Most Prolific Hack Writer, Teaches the Craft

How Branding Can Help and Hinder Your Writing

Branding Defined with Artists in Mind

When you hear the word “branding” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

I see a portfolio pounding professional power-walking around a boardroom table. Over their shoulder is a screen with a venn diagram. It features an infographic, a polar chart, and a pie chart overlapping each other. The speaker jabbers in jargon, traces hieroglyphic stats with a laser pen, and high fives their colleges right across the cheeks.

“It is mission-critical for our business to leverage strategic bleeding edge synergizing techniques to push the envelope outside the box if we hope to achieve vertical growth.”

At least that’s what I imagine when I hear the word branding. As a fiction writer, I figured branding was a word marketers used to inflate the importance of advertising, but it turns out it’s relevant to what I’m doing.

Put simply, branding is the thing that lets customers know what to expect from businesses, products, and even entertainment.

Put even simpler: branding = expectations

Just like in the corporate world, fiction brands let audiences know what to expect, and just like in the corporate world, a handful of brands have a monopoly.

This is why iconic characters enjoy so many reinventions, fiction franchises outlive their originators, and big name authors can pass work to ghost writers. People don’t want to waste hard earned money on bad entertainment. Brands appear to eliminate that risk.

If you want a steamy romance about an untamable Harley driver with borderline disorder just look for the lathered abs on the cover. If you like psychological thrillers about scandalous women, find a book with the word “girl” in the title. If you want a mystery about women who went missing while running, find a book with a foggy forest on the front.  Continue reading How Branding Can Help and Hinder Your Writing

The Smilers: A Horror Story About Happy People

The first incident happened at the liquor store.

I had a bottle of pinot noir in one hand and tub of Peppermint Bon Bon in the other. I had taken my time settling on the wine. The ice cream had melted down my palm and puddled on the floor. It seeped through my slipper and pooled between my toes. By the time I felt it I’d already slipped.

The bottle rolled down my hand and up my fingers in an arch. I dove to catch it. It clinked on the linoleum, but it didn’t crack. It would’ve been a great save had it not been for the shelf I’d knocked over in the process. Cans popped out of six packs, rolled down the aisle, and spouted leaks.

I crawled around in my pajama pants collecting craft beers into my hooded sweatshirt. I wobbled up to the front counter with arms overloaded with aluminum and pockets oozing with ice cream and beer foam. Continue reading The Smilers: A Horror Story About Happy People

Newsreelmancer PART 2

Continued from Newsreelmancer PART 1

Welcome to the year 2036. Technology has changed, but society’s ills have remained the same.

Our hero purchased a pair of smart lenses off the darknet, so he could slack off at work. Too bad the first thing he saw with them was a terrorist attack. Three planes crashed into the Freedom Tower at the exact moment our hero turned his lenses on. Coincidence, or is there something sinister about these so called Oracle Eyes?

Newsreelmancer PART 2

The night the One World Trade Center was attacked I lay in bed staring at the applications on the ceiling. I scanned through those rune stone icons, opening and closing them. Apart from the News app, none of them opened with a strange flurry of pictures.

There was one app that refused to open at all.

This rune had a keyhole etched into it. I squinted at it but it wouldn’t enlarge nor would it ignite. After thirty seconds of staring all that appeared were the words DET HEMMELIGE KAMMER. I ran them through a Norwegian to English dictionary. They translated to THE SECRET CHAMBER.

I’ve seen applications that pose as other things: documents, system apps, or folders. Things a suspicious spouse wouldn’t bat an eye at. Developers marketed these apps as little black books for swingers, photo libraries for sexts, and lock boxes for corporate secrets.

Those apps hid in plain sight. DET HEMMELIGE KAMMER had “Secret” in the title and an icon that demanded inspection.

I kept trying, but the application wouldn’t respond to squints, nor would it give me a field to enter a password in. Stranger still, it wasn’t present in any of the Oracle Eyes beta operating systems I found online. Either these lenses were pre-alpha prototypes or they’d been modded after the fact. Continue reading Newsreelmancer PART 2