When I unlock the apartment I wait for Mala to meow for her meal. When I kick off my shoes I anticipate her whiskers on my heels. When I set the mail on the table I wait for her to run her black ears beneath my fingertips.
When I set the grocery bags on the counter I expect her to inspect them. When the bags are empty I expect her to leap inside. When I open the refrigerator I expect to see her on the bottom shelf licking the bacon.
When I sit on the couch, Mala leaps up onto the armrest, descends the pillows, and approaches my lap. The moment I turn to pet her she’s gone. When I sit on the toilet I can feel her doing figure eights around my ankles. There’s nothing but tiles when I look down.
I coasted down the mountainside with dew beneath my feet and air kissing my cheeks. All the wolves howled, all the crickets chirped, and the all owls hooted as I passed. All the night creatures offered their greetings for I was their guardian.
I was Syrinx, the nymph charged with protecting the wilderness from the axes of man.
This was Arcadia a hidden place untouched by seasons, where flowers were always in bloom and rocks were evergreen.
My sisters’ laughter carried down the mountainside. They were frolicking on the highest peak, perfecting their dance routines. Most Nymphs used dance to sway the hearts of men from committing violence on the woodlands. I wanted to influence men’s hearts with my mind, with my writing.
I rode down the slope until I was certain I was alone. I reached into my tunic and produced the instruments of my craft: a sheet of papyrus, a quill, and a bottle of vegetable juice. Continue reading How Pan Got His Flute→
The following are my resolutions for my writing going into 2017.
Finish What I start
I need to take my stories all the way from conception to the query letter. I’m good at writing first drafts then moving on to the next bright shinny thing. Part of the problem is I’ve gotten addicted to the instant gratification of publishing short fiction online.
My novels and novellas have suffered for that. I need to remind myself that everything I post here is in service to the novel I’m cheating on.
And speaking of query letters. I need to…
Sell What I Write
I’ve sold some of my short stories, but I drop most of them into the gaping maw of Beelzeblog, the master of metrics, the prince of platforms, the ruler of reach. He demands a sacrifice a week. At night, I hear him growling from my laptop.
I can never satiate Beelzeblog’s hunger for fresh content, but maybe I shouldn’t. It’s hard to sell something once you’ve given it away. I need to hold more material back.
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.
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.
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.
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→
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short).
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).
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.
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→