Monday, September 28, 2015

Rob E. Boley - Five Things Learned Writing (the first half of) the SCARY TALES Series

Rob E. Boley discusses his five things learned writing 
The Scary Tales Series

I love writing lil’ tidbits like this because it forces me to do something that surely does not come naturally to me: thinking. See, I’m much more of a do-er than a think-er. I’m the guy in meetings who’s tapping his feet, doodling, checking his email, or slamming his head again and again into the table. Why? Because I don’t want to talk about it; I want to do it. I’d rather sing it than bring it. I’d rather bite than bark. I’d rather walk than talk. I’d rather write than outline.

Which brings me to my first point . . .

1) Solid stories fall together, not apart.

On the scale of pantser-to-plotter, I’m almost entirely a pantser, which is to say that I have a general idea where my story will end up, but I have only the vaguest of notions how my characters will get there. There are pros and cons to this approach, but the biggest positive is that my characters continue to surprise me.

I can tell you for sure that the vast majority of the coolest swerves and most riveting developments in The Scary Tales were unplanned. These little moments were spontaneous outgrowths of the characters and their situations, and I had as much fun discovering them as my readers will (hopefully) have reading them.

But these moments don’t always happen. I’ve had many a story die on the vine, and it’s usually because something was missing—either the characters didn’t have a strong enough arc, the tension was too wobbly, or the destination ultimately wasn’t all that interesting. I’m a firm believer that if a story has a solid foundation of characters and conflict, it will fall together, rather than apart.

Fortunately, with The Scary Tales, everything has fallen together wonderfully, and that’s at least partly because of my next point . . .

2) Fairy tales are rich soil for fiction, especially horror.

My Scary Tales series started as a simple Snow White zombie short story, but that story quickly blossomed into a novella, a novel, a trilogy, and ultimately a full-on series. At last part of that growth is because of the rich metaphors and iconic characters associated with the Snow White fairy tale—as well as fairy tales in general.

I’ve read a ton of fairy tales—especially by the Brothers Grimm—since I started working on the series, and these stories are full of compelling characters, horrific acts, tense situations, and depraved twists.  Some of the most fascinating of the original Grimms fairy tales aren’t widely known, such as The Singing Bone or Thousandfurs. So if you’re looking for some dark inspiration, I’d recommend exploring some of the lesser-known of these tales.

They will make you laugh out loud with their absurdity or cringe with their grotesqueness—or possibly both, which hints at my next point . . .

3) Everyone brings their own story to your story.

I’ve had some people read That Risen Snow and tell me about how they simply couldn’t put it down because they were so anxious to see what happened next. Others have told me that they thought it was laugh-out-loud hilarious. Still others have told me it was scary as hell. These are all valid interpretations of the material, mind you.

Likewise, I’ve had all manner of response to the characters. Some readers have absolutely hated Merry, one of the seven dwarfs who is plagued by depression and who makes some questionable decisions throughout the novel. Others seemed to sympathize with the little guy and considered him their favorite character. I’m always thrilled when my writing elicits any strong emotion from readers, but I wasn’t expecting their responses to vary so widely. Edmund Wilson summed up this phenomenon with this great quote: "No two persons ever read the same book."

Of course, if you want to provoke any sort of response from your readers, you have to keep them engaged. That happens with tension, which for me is an outgrowth of my next point . . .

4) Imagining terrible things happening to your characters beats the hells out of worrying about terrible things happening to you.

At some point while writing this series, I came to a realization about how writing makes me a happier, healthier person. See, when I was a little kid, I worried about everything. I worried about the penny I swallowed poisoning me. I worried about getting in big trouble for the basement window I broke. I worried about going to the doctor or playing sports or talking to girls.

As I got older, I outgrew a lot of my anxiety but it still remained as my default “negative” emotion. Some people get angry. Some people feel guilty. I worry. After my daughter was born, I was surprised both by how much I loved her—but also by how much I fretted over her. Maybe it’s no coincidence that I started writing fiction after I became a dad. I’ve learned that the writing acts as an outlet for that anxious fidgeting of the mind. Oh, I still spend a good chunk of every day conjuring up awful things that might happen, but these are things that will happen to my characters, not to myself or my loved ones. That benefits me as a person, because I’m not a nervous wreck, and it benefits my readers because it keeps the tension flowing in my stories.

A tense reader keeps turning the pages until they run out of pages, which brings me to my final point . . .

5) Some people really fumping hate cliffhangers.

If I could change any one thing about That Risen Snow, the first book of The Scary Tales series, it would be the abruptness of the ending. I won’t give any spoilers here, except to say that the story ends with a pretty major cliffhanger.

By and large, the book has great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but the few negative reviews mostly concern the cliffhanger ending. Some people like cliffhangers. Others tolerate them if they care enough for the characters. A very vocal minority hates the shit out of cliffhangers and would probably eat your firstborn child if you have the audacity to write a cliffhanger. Seriously.

While I think the first book ends more or less at the best spot in the overarching story, I wish I’d finessed the final scene a little more. The subsequent books all end with some degree of tension, but the endings are more poignant and subtle. Rest assured, Book 9 will not end with a cliffhanger. All will be resolved. And almost no one will live happily ever after . . . 

Author Bio:

Rob E. Boley grew up in Enon, Ohio, a little town with a big Indian mound. He later earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

He’s the author of The Scary Tales series of dark fantasy novels featuring mash-ups of classic fairy tale characters and horror monsters. His fiction has appeared in several markets, including A cappella Zoo, Pseudopod, Clackamas Literary Review, and Best New Werewolf Tales. His stories have won Best in Show in the Sinclair Community College Creative Writing Contest and the Dayton Daily News/Antioch Writers’ Workshop Short Story Contest.

He lives with his daughter in Dayton, where he works for his alma mater. Each morning and most nights, he enjoys making blank pages darker. You can get to know him better by visiting his website at

Author Links:


Book Links:

That Risen Snow: A Scary Tale of Snow White & Zombies

Available in paperback and ebook.
Ebook currently on sale for free!



·  Kobo

·  iTunes

That Wicked Apple: A Scary Tale of Snow White & Even More Zombies

Available in paperback and ebook.



·  Kobo

·  iTunes


A Scary Tales Box Set (Books 1-4)

There’s no better time to get caught up on The Scary Tales! This special box set contains the first four books of The Scary Tales series. That’s four complete novels for only $7.99!



·  Kobo

·  iTunes

Aaron Rocheleau KAJA STAR - Five Things Learned Writing

Aaron Rocheleau discusses
five things learned writing
No Place Like Home
On the day Titus Markava plans to propose, he is horrified to discover that the love of his life is actually a shape-shifting alien man.  Before he can recover from the unfortunate news, he is quite literally thrown from Earth onto a completely different world in a completely different solar system.
It is a world where a person might conduct himself almost as well as he conducts electricity.  It is a world on the brink of an interplanetary conflict.  It is a world of dinosoids, insectavores, and even a cyborg or two.  It is a world with CNN… just not quite the same CNN we’re used to.
Yet even though it is a world where entire planets can be traversed instantly by portals called gates, Titus can’t find even one to take him back home.
1. If you have a good idea, use it sooner rather than later.  As I was writing Kaja Star I would get a great idea and write it down to use later in the story, but I get kept getting ideas faster than I was putting them into the book.  It made more sense to put say, all thirty awesome things into the book rather than use only two of them in between filler and not have room for any more.

2. Network. The old saying, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ is true.  I knew I needed an editor, but I didn’t know who to work with.  I asked a fellow author for some help and he recommended some awesome editors I would have never found if I hadn’t asked.

3. Marketing is hard work.  Down below you’re going to run into links for my website and social media stuff.  You’ll see that I write things, develop new illustrations, and sometimes I even interview chickens on Youtube.  The point is that all this stuff takes up time that I could be using to finish my next book.  People are fickle.  If I don’t give them something to remember me by then they’re going to go back to doing something other than getting my book to read.

4. You can’t please everybody.  You are selling a product that you want as many people to buy and enjoy as possible, but not everybody is the same.  Some people will never buy your book.  Don’t take it personally.

5. Fight choreography is fun to watch, not fun to read.  I put way too much detail into fight scenes at first.  I didn’t want them to feel anti-climactic yet when I would go back and read them later, I immediately become lost and bored.  Some things are just more exciting on the big screen.  Tightening the action description made the parts more exciting.
About the Author
Aaron Rocheleau lives in West Michigan with his family.  He writes stories, because exciting adventures are way more fun than call centers and insurance.  His stories are fast paced and fun (gotta be able to compete with those newfangled video games, and movies).  When he's not writing, he's taking swims in Lake Michigan, playing those newfangled video games, and geocaching, which is like treasure hunting, only safer. His house is perpetually surrounded by free range attack chickens that viciously consume everything in their path. Chickens are nature’s zombies.
Social Media:
Twitter @ SpazsticAaron
Book Links:
What people are saying about KAJA STAR
"A new, unique tale with action, comedy and drama. One could make the comparisons to Star Wars and Avatar: The Last Airbender, but this is one hundred percent unique."
"If you are a SciFi fanatic, a teenager at home with nothing to do, or even an older person at work (when on break or nothing else to do of course), I would recommend this book to you."
"...found this book very imaginative with lots of action and great descriptions of the characters and surroundings."
Smiley Optimus


Tuesday, September 22, 2015


featuring Deanna J Compton
Freecurrent I:  The Legacy
Within a hidden drawer in a dusty old trunk stored in the attic, seventeen year old Jesse finds her long lost grandmother's diary.  The pages reveal Gabriel's adventure from thirty years earlier as she travels through a gate to a land of magic where dragons communicate telepathically and fantastic creatures strive to restore harmony between their realms.  Gabriel is visited by a handsome young warrior who tells her she is destined to save his land from corruption.  He persuades her to set aside her life as a homemaker and travel with him through the lightning gate to Risen to become their next Master Sorceress.  Gabriel becomes deeply involved with the people and creatures of Risen as she attempts to defeat the corrupt sorcerer who plans to dominate all.  As Jesse reads about her grandmother's journey, she encounters a personal crisis of her own and must leave home with her golden retriever and elude the police as she travels to the lightning gate.  On the way she discovers that her own destiny is entwined with her grandmother's in ways that both alarm and thrill her.  "The Legacy" is the exciting beginning to the Freecurrent series.

Freecurrent II:  Descendants
In the depths of his seclusion, the corrupt sorcerer Candaz devises a strategy to help restore his lost power.  As he attempts to implement his plan, the dragons suddenly vanish from Risen and it is left up to their human friends to discover the reason for their disappearance.  In the second book of the Freecurrent series Jesse joins her grandmother in a quest to find out what fostered this terrible occurrence and to set things right.  She crosses paths with three handsome young men who will impact her life in very different ways.  With time slipping away for the dragons, the party faces a number of perils as they traverse Risen in an attempt to reach the Ancient Dragon Temple of Neeg to find answers before it is too late.
Freecurrent III:  Dynasty
After chasing Candaz through the lightning gate to Earth, Stephan and Nicholas continue to pursue the elusive sorcerer as he endeavors once again to reclaim his authority.  Jesse must return home to protect her family from Candaz's malicious plans.  The third and final book of the Freecurrent series is filled with action and an array of emotions.  Personal triumphs and tragedies are visited upon the inhabitants of Risen.  A link to the past could be the key to solving a critical personal battle for Stephan but hard choices lay in the path.  Events escalate when a last ditch effort by Candaz to rule all of Risen is challenged by Jesse and her friends as they struggle to restore peace to the realm.  Their lives and all that they love are in jeopardy and they must fight to avoid extinction.
Five things I learned writing the "Freecurrent" trilogy:
1.  Writing a novel and letting others read said novel is like standing naked in front of the world.  An author, like any other artist, opens themselves up for critical examination by not only family and friends, but total strangers.  It is exposing the soul to others as the reader inevitably becomes intimate with the writer in a symbiosis relationship.
2.  Writing is much easier than marketing.
3.  Writing is cheaper than therapy.
4.  The grammar correction on "Word" doesn't know everything.
5.  The fifth and most important thing I learned from writing "Freecurrent" is that I have a true passion for writing.  I love every aspect of the craft.  Developing characters is very personal and some of them I love deeply, which is weird because they are an extension of my identity.  I am thrilled when someone reads my work and enjoys it.  I love to get feedback from readers that they loved my story.
About the Author
Deanna Compton was born in Muskegon, Michigan where she presently lives with her husband of thirty plus years, two sons, one daughter, two dogs, a cat, and two snakes.  She lived in Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Lexington and Roscommon before moving back to Muskegon.  For the last ten years she has run a dog boarding kennel.  Being mom-taxi has recently become much more fun with the addition of her "new" shiny red 1970 Chevrolet Impala convertible.  Her passion is writing.  Fantasy is her favorite genre because the imagination is free to soar beyond the ordinary.  She likes classic hard rock, walks on the beach and dark chocolate.

Official Website:


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ingar Rudholm - Five Things Learned Writing TRAVELING CIRCUS

featuring Ingar Rudholm

Flynn Parkes, a shy kid from Whitehall, is kidnapped by a mysterious traveling circus. With the help of his friend, Albert the fortune-teller, he finds his courage.


Five Things I’ve Learned About Writing a Book:

1. Find an editor that can give some constructive criticism. Someone who can explain why something doesn’t work in a manuscript.

2. Write a dozen or more book descriptions in 200 words or less. Breakdown those book descriptions into two or three sentences. Whether I’m in a bookstore or expo, if I can’t “pitch” the story in less than 3 sentences, I have a hard time selling my book.

3. Come up with a book marketing plan. Have a list of every library, radio station, tv station, facebook friends, writing groups, art fairs, expos and independent bookstores. Pound the pavement. Pick-up a book called “Gorilla Marketing” by Jay Levinson.

4. Find a few “target” audience readers and pay them to do a book report. In the book report, ask them “What do you like about the book? What don’t you like about the book? What could’ve been better about the book? What would you change about the book?”

5. Have fun! If you’re not passionate about the subject, find another topic.


About the Author
Ingar Rudholm was born and raised in Whitehall, Michigan. His mother owned Homestead Art Gallery on Mears right across the street from the Howmet Playhouse. When he’s not writing and illustrating books, Ingar designs store fixtures for Industrial Assemblies in Fruitport, Michigan.

Author Links:

Book link:

The book cover was on display at the Muskegon Museum of Art for the 87th Annual Regional Exhibit until August 5th and a limited edition print of the book cover was purchased by West Michigan Symphony.