Tag Archives: blogging

How Horror Bloggers can Milk Halloween All October Long

Another October is upon us and you know what that means: morning show hosts treating pumpkin spice like it’s heroin, think pieces on seasonal depression, and outrage over tone deaf Halloween costumes (this year it’s a slinky short skirted version of the robes from the Handmaid’s Tale).

Oh, and horror writers doing everything they can to get you to look in our direction.

“Hey! You know you’ve been meaning to check out my scary stories out for a while? Well now’s the time!”

That’s right. Now’s the time of year horror writers get to be on brand and topically relevant to the normies in our social media feed. Rather than dig deep for a memoir on how the season shaped our young imaginations (something personally profound no one would read) we need quick clickable articles that write themselves.

Well if you’re looking for a template for sharable Halloween content to steal from you’ve come to the right guy.

Tis the Season to be Listing

Nothing says cheap mindless content like laying on the listicles. Sure everyone who’s into horror has seen trailers for every film that’s come out this year, but you’re a movie maven so inform everyone what they really ought to be watching.

Maybe you’ll be the 10thcritic to finally push them into seeing Mandy, it’s Nic Cage fighting cenobite bikers with a battle-axe (in a slow burning surrealist study with sparse dialogue). What’s not to like?

Maybe you can be the first of your film buff friends to pitch The Endless in a way that makes sense to casual audiences.

“It’s the story of two brothers visiting the cult they’ve escaped from to find the commune stuck in a sentient pocket dimension hell-bent on claiming them.”

“It’s a coming of age tale set in a UFO death cult.”

“It’s basically The Wicker Man meets Groundhogs Day.”

Clearly I haven’t cracked it yet. Why don’t you try?

Or maybe you can be the first amongst to laud praise on the deboot of Halloween, and champion other exhausted franchises to dump their excess canon in favor of a direct sequels to their original films.

Tap some lists out at the bus stop. Here are some suggestions:

  • Best on Screen Decapitations (The Exorcist 3 is obligatory)
  • Best Mirror Jump Scares
  • Best Demon Etching Title Sequences
  • Best Uses of Moonlight Sonata in a Horror Property
  • Best Horror Spins on Less Successful Sci Fi Premises
  • Best Recent Horrific Crimes for Writers to Base New Material on While the Families are Still Grieving
  • Most Violent Moments on Broadcast Television that Would’ve Gotten an R Rating Had They Been Shown on the Big Screen
  • Best Stephen King Tribute References in Stephen King’s Own Novels

These lists practically write themselves.

Review the Shit Out of Everything

There are too many horror shows for streamers to sift through. Isn’t it part of your vocation as a champion of revulsion to grade them with some sort of skull-centric rating system? Halloween is the Oscars for all things horror. It’s your duty as a corrupter of young minds to cast your vote on time.

Mine the Hell Out of the Past

Save your audience a Google search by listing all the Halloween themed episodes available on streaming. Rank The Simpson Tree House of Horror episodes. Add episodes from the revival seasons of The X-Files to your best of posts, and list the top 10 episodes of The Twilight Zone you want Jordan Peele to remake in the forthcoming series.

Repackage Old Articles with Seasonal Thumbnails

That old blog on Horror Clichés in Need of an Exorcism is just one jack-o-lantern PNG away from being relevant again. That entry on the art of Building Your Own Monsters is just a Halloween hashtag from being reblogged by readers. You got a few comments from that The War on Halloween editorial just add a devil emoji and share that shit again.

People who know me, should’ve suspected my demon nature for some time.

Streamline Your Short Fiction

Writing seasonal flash fiction is challenging. Those short stories get hits in the moment, but on October 31st they become irrelevant. Why waste your time and energy when you just want readers to click on the books for sale in the margins?

I recommend stocking up on Mad Libs and filling them with monster references:

(Man’s name) Flavius Octavius Davis walked in and opened the (noun) lead lined casket where he found a (adjective) bioluminescent (verb) mangled (noun) alien corpse with rope-like heaps of coiled tentacles. He exclaimed (exclamation) “Sweet Jesus, no!”

Make Your Readers Do the Work

Invite the audience to vote on your Halloween costume options, plans for the night in question, and ultimately your excuses for staying in.

But Whatever You Do Don’t…

Don’t give up them game by telling readers about the cynical click-bait schemes you’ve been concocting behind the scenes. That would be the kind noxious over sharing that would be harmful to your brand. You want to seem like your authentic self to readers without letting it all hang out and actually being authentic.

Only a well-trained transdimensional traveler secure in his meta-musings would poses the strength of mind to even attempt such a thing. (Drew wipes the sweat from his brow while tugging at his collar like a nervous cartoon character.)

Oh… and… uh… Happy Halloween!

•••

Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.

Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.

Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.

Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?

Pre-order my novel HE HAS MANY NAMES today!

Thoughts on Turning 29 for the Umpteenth Time

When it comes to attaching expectations to annual events I go off like clock work. On News Years Eve I keep my head down at the count down. On Valentine’s Day I listen to a well-curated playlist of sad songs, and on my birthday I do everything I can to avoid introspection. I have a bad tendency to throw myself a pity party, to review the previous season’s events and try to figure out where it all went wrong. It’s my party and I’ll stare off into the middle distance if I want to, stare off into the middle distance if I want to, stare off into the middle distance if I want to. You would too if you were a maladaptive daydreamer like Drew.

I’ve taken another trip around the sun, but this one feels different than the last few. I’m not so worried about getting lost in the Twilight Zone of my subconscious tonight.

Rather than hold my head and wonder, “When the hell are things going to start happening?” I already know the answer.

The answer is NOW BITCHES. Things arehappening. No vows have been exchanged, no baby names have been chosen, but soon my name will soon be in print. That’s a hell of a lot of something.

Sure I’m one year further from being a rock star, but I’m one year closer to being an author (I’ve been a writer for a while, but now I’m finally getting my ass published).

This year, rather than stare off into the middle distance counting super heroes in my head to give myself a distraction I’m going to count my blessings.

I’m older, but despite a few gray hairs and handful of smile lines I haven’t aged too hard. I’m hoping I have Paul Rudd syndrome in that I have a few more decades of looking like this to look forward to (knock on wood, knock on all the wood).

I’ve also got Nemo, an adorable kitten that tears my flesh to ribbons.

And I have book called HE HAS MANY NAMES and another secret project that I’m editing (it’s called I AM FIRE slide into my DMs so I can spoil the ending).

Anyway. I have birthday reservations at my favorite establishment.

Word up to all my fellow Virgos (even though we notoriously don’t believe in astrology).

How to Write Blog Spam

So You Want to be a Writer in the Information Age

Everyone thinks they have a million-dollar novel in them, something they’ll option to the premium cable companies once they get it started, but you’ve transcended those theoretical thinkers and become a doer. You’ve put in your time at the coffee shop, gritted your teeth through bad dub-step, and put your magnum opus on paper. Now you’re thinking of shopping it around.

The problem is you’re just now reading articles that tell you you’ve done it all backwards. You put the cart before the horse. You were supposed to build a website first, develop a strong social media presence, and then get your novel published. You spent all your time honing your writing skills when you should’ve been practicing selling, so saith the social media gurus you’ve found and they speak with authority.

Build Thy Brand

These social media gurus, these masters of marketing, these grand clerics of the click-through insist writers build a brand before they do anything. A brand is an online presence that represents your unique perspective, beliefs, and voice, and by unique, of course, they mean nothing so emotionally vulnerable that someone might find it depressing, nothing so quirky that people without a sense of humor won’t get it, nothing so seedy it couldn’t be read in classroom, nothing with references your grand parents won’t catch, and nothing remotely political. Continue reading How to Write Blog Spam

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

Why I had to Unplug through this Summer of Static

The information age is both a blessing and a curse for writers.

The tools we use to find our audiences can also drain our creative energy. The twin punch combo of the 24-hour news cycle and social media can knock us out. It’s part of the reason I took a break from blogging, posting on Facebook, and tweeting.

If the internet is a series of tubes it felt like they were all carrying, to quote W.P. Mayhew from Barton Fink, a “raging river of manure.”

This election cycle has dialed the national discussion up to eleven. Everyone is pounding on their keyboards with the caps lock on, but let’s put a pin in that politically polarizing conversation and acknowledge how draining the news can be even when Trump isn’t stealing headlines. Continue reading Why I had to Unplug through this Summer of Static

Blog In Case of Emergencies

I’ve blogged at least once a week for three years running. I’ve written enough essays on the craft of writing fiction to fill a book and enough short stories to fill another one (gee, that gives me an idea).

This week I started an article on how novelists should write with film adaptations in mind. Not to say that every hardcover is destined for the big screen, but that fiction writers could learn a lot from another medium. My angle was that narrative writers should use screenwriting tricks to keep their manuscripts from getting too long.

I got about 500 words in before I realized this was ground I’ve covered before. I was coasting on sayings I use all the time. The last thing I wanted to do was recycle a bunch old of content. I’ve followed too many blogs where each entry gets bogged down by lazy self-plagiarism (yes, that’s a thing).

So I decided to get back on the short fiction train.

I got about 1,800 words into a short story (tentatively titled Newsreelmancer) and I realized I was at the halfway point. Newsreelmancer is my first foray into science fiction in some time and it’s taking a lot longer for the story to resinate with me.

Writing can feel as empty as corporate jargon or as engaging as telepathy. The difference is that feeling of authenticity. In the spirit of finishing what I start I want to keep chipping away at this story for another week, until I find that certain something that makes it feel genuine.

That said, I don’t have any writing advice or short fiction for you this week.

This placeholder post is an I-owe-you slip for one blog entry or short story to be redeemed later. I promise it will be something that comes from a real place, resonates with deeper meaning, and is longer than the length of a comment.

P.S. One piece of advice I have for any aspiring blogger is to have a backlog of evergreen content piled up just in case something like this happens.

P.S.S. Admittedly this is not my finest work, but it does technically count as a blog entry, meaning my three year streak continues unbroken.

Blog Status Update

Blog entries will always get more clicks than Short Stories, but if you’re an aspiring author you need to do one of these things more. “How to” articles will drive traffic to your site, but will they pique anyone’s interest in your fiction? What’s the overlap between your readers in each medium? Odds are your blogging voice and your narrative voice sound completely different.

If you share more blogs than fiction, you’ve only established one of your brands.

I’ve had success writing about online marketing, but I’m more interested in writing horror than I am being a social media mentor. Yes, I could get around Twitter’s link limiting algorithm by writing endless articles about it, but that’s not why I’m here in the first place.

I’ve decided that my site needs to take a hit in monthly clicks so I can pursue my niche. If that means rebuilding my audience from the ground up, so be it.

There’s no shortage of bloggers who blog about blogging for bloggers who do the same, writing empty self perpetuating content that dates itself upon publication. I’m going to exit that cycle for a while.

You may have noticed the change already. This last May I’ve posted 5 short stories. I don’t know if I can keep that level of creative output going all summer long (I also have a novel to edit), but I want share as much fiction as I do blogs on writing.

There are so many would-be authors building brands by giving advice on the craft of writing. That’s been my strategy for four years now.

I’ve found that the audience that enjoys my blogging voice doesn’t really know my creative writing voice yet. That needs to change. So brace yourself for more twisted fiction to come.

My Secret Blogging Formula

When I started this blog four years ago I had no idea what I was doing. My first article was on the arrogance of trying to build a brand online. I openly mocked the concept, myself for going along with it, and any potential audience for reading it. The one thing I can say for my approach was that it was honest. I was daunted by the excess of blogs by other writers who were trying to do the same thing. I resisted the notion that authors have to sell themselves before they sell their work.

I wrote with a cynical tone because I feared an intimate one would make me vulnerable to criticism. A sarcastic edge is the armor of every novice blogger. I just wanted to share my art. I didn’t know the write way to acknowledge my audience.

The months went on and my blog became more than a depository for old poetry. I realized all the tricks I used to keep my writing flowing were things worth sharing. I just had to develop the language to articulate them. Over the years I’ve perfected this blogging formula. These are some of the techniques I use. Continue reading My Secret Blogging Formula

I’m Not Me: On the Reality Behind Internet Personalities

What Trent Reznor Taught Me About Public Personas

In 1997 the band Nine Inch Nails filmed a music video for their hit single The Perfect Drug. In the video the lead singer, Trent Reznor, looks like he’s stepped out of an Edward Goyer drawing. His skin is so pale it’s blue. His jet-black hair hangs down to his long black coat. He roves a hedge maze, wielding a scepter. He sits beside a phonograph with a vulture perched atop a skull. He lip syncs, lying down on a bear skin rug. Continue reading I’m Not Me: On the Reality Behind Internet Personalities

The Mob Comes for Everyone: On the Age of Public Shaming

The villagers find the windmill offensive
The villagers find the windmill offensive

There is wisdom in crowds.

Ask a classroom full of children to guess how many gumdrops are in a jar. They’ll give you a small margin of error. Groups are better at estimating than individuals. Bring researchers with different theories together and watch them cancel out each other’s biases. Groups with diverse opinions are good at making rational decisions. Go to trivia night with friends with different interests and you’ll increase your odds of success. When people with different focuses collaborate, they raise the collective knowledge pool.

There is madness in crowds too. Continue reading The Mob Comes for Everyone: On the Age of Public Shaming