About Rob E. Boley

I’m the author of a That Risen Snow and That Wicked Apple, the first in a series of dark fantasy novels known as The Scary Tales. I grew up in Enon, Ohio, a little town with a big Indian mound. You can get to know me better by visiting my website at www.robboley.com.

First Book Talk for Antioch Writers’ Workshop

On July 16, 2015, I had the honor of giving a First Book Talk presentation at the best creative writing conference around, the Antioch Writers’ Workshop (AWW).

I attended AWW in 2007, 2012, and 2013, and it’s the reason I’m now a published novelist. I can’t thank enough the staff (especially Sharon Short), the faculty, and the volunteers at this amazing event for all that they do each year to support the development of the writing craft.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.


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Your Story: How to End

Darker PagesA few weeks back, I wrote an article about where to begin your short story or novel. The article asked you to visualize your story as a party. My point was that you can create the most amazing shindig ever—full of awesome character arcs, strong tension, and engaging dialogue—but if you don’t invite anyone, no one’s ever going to read it.

But just as you must invite the reader, so too should you be a gracious fiction host and thank the reader for their time.

The Thank-You

So, let’s assume your invitation works, and the reader comes to your fiction fiesta. You’ve given them a hell of a good story, and they’re on their way out the door. As their host, it is now your job to send them a thank-you note—a way of extending your gratitude for reading.

This is the job of your story’s ending: to thank the reader. It’s the pay-off. Now please don’t confuse this with a happy ending. I’m not saying that your readers should walk away with a big dumb smile on their face. Not at all. But a solid story ending will satisfy the reader in other more substantial ways if it has, in most cases, three elements:

1) Transformation. Your protagonist has faced whatever conflict you introduced in your opening paragraphs and in the course of that struggle she has been forever altered. Since that conflict was rooted in some character flaw, ideally she also overcomes or resolves that flaw. Maybe she swears learns that she doesn’t really need peanut butter cups to be happy.

2) Victory and defeat. Let your ending be a mixed mag. Life offers us very few solid wins. Likewise, neither should our fiction. Most readers understand this on a primal level. So, if your hero triumphs, make sure she also loses something vital. Or if she loses, make sure she walks away all the better for it. Maybe she gets all the chocolate in the world, but learns that she has an allergy to peanut butter.

3) The final lines are rooted in sensory details. Don’t leave the reader swimming in the depths of your protagonist’s head. Give them a solid image—a concrete thing—to visualize at story’s end. Maybe it’s the smooth center and crinkled edges of an uneaten peanut butter cup.

Do these three things, and your readers are almost guaranteed to come clamoring back for more. So, be a gracious host. Invite your readers to the story with a strong beginning and thank them afterward with a satisfying ending. And if all else fails, bribe them with peanut butter cups.

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Words Are Not Bricks

IMG_0023-2webLast week, I had the opportunity to visit some students at the Dayton Regional STEM School’s STEMmersion program and ramble a bit about writing (that’s me rambling in the picture above). These students are spending a couple weeks with STEM faculty to explore nature through meditation, outdoor activities, and journaling.

I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and creativity of these young writers! We used one of my favorite writing prompts, Seed Poems/Seed Stories (which I explain here), only this time we used upcycled pages from my favorite wilderness conservation organization, the Arc of Appalachia. Using the Arc’s profound words as a launch pad, we first crafted haikus and then lines of dialogue.

The big point that I wanted to make with the Seed Poems, and what I want to impress upon you here, is that word are not bricks.

A lot of potential writers get turned away from the craft because they see words as rigid structures that must be stacked precisely to build these imposing walls of text.

Um, a world of hell no.

Words are not bricks. Words are softer than that, more organic. Words are clay. Words are paint. Words do require precision and effort, sure, but they can also be messy and fun. They can also be broken down and recycled into new structures, like with the Seed Poems we created.

So, as you sit down to type out your words, see them as clay. And whatever you do, don’t let them harden.

I’d like to close this post with a big shout-out to STEM student Callie Hester, who was kind enough to share with me (and all of you) a couple Seed Poems she crafted using sentences from the first chapter of my debut novel, That Risen Snow.

Check out the awesome:

Her hair black as night
Eyes, blue as the sky
Usually she dances
Sky with her
Blue, skies
Are now gray
Now, she won’t return the same
Black night becomes morning light
Pupils darken as the days go by
Floating like a cloud
In the sky
Twin orbs of horror
Pools of tears running down her face
Of what dreams may come?
Blood pouring out her mouth, no she won’t return the same

Her skin as cold as ice
Lips red from blood
Twist and turns from her worries
In a deep sleep like a coma
A sleep that she will never awaken from
Sneering as she runs away forever

Thanks so much, Callie!

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Zombie Snow White Photo Shoot!

Rob and Zombie SnowSo, I spent this Memorial Day doing a photo shoot with Zombie Snow White, as portrayed by Wright State University theatre student Haylee Dobkins. We ventured out to the Rockafield Family Cemetery in the Wright State campus woods with photographer Leighanna Hornick, a Wright State motion pictures student.

Leighanna took the picture above and the one at the very bottom. The rest are ones I took with my iPhone.

Zombie Snow outside cemeteryWe started at the cemetery and got some great pics of me and Zombie Snow. It had been a rainy morning, but thankfully the clouds showed us about an hour and a half of mercy.

snow1We then ventured down a trail into the woods for a few more pictures:


Pay attention, kids. This is why you don’t accept apples from strangers in the woods.

snow5Thankfully, Haylee has a gymnastics background, and was able to safely perch on the tree pictured above and strike some truly horrific poses! We took hundreds of pictures, but this one below (courtesy of Leighanna Hornick) is probably my favorite . . .

IMG_2345copyA big THANK YOU to Haylee and Leighanna for making this shoot such a positive experience. It was a lot of fun working with two such energetic, enthusiastic, and creative talents!

Haylee will be reprising her role next week at THAT WICKED APPLE ZOMBIE BOOK LAUNCH PARTY, to be held Thursday, June 4th from 6:00 to 9:00 at Eudora Brewing Co in Kettering, Ohio. Don’t you dare miss it!

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Star in Your Own Horror Story: Enter at Your Own Risk

Enter At Your Own Risk ContestThis week, I’m thrilled to announce a major new contest–ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK–that I’m holding in conjunction with the good people at iHorror.com. Now through Sunday, May 31st at midnight, anyone who signs up for both our email lists will be automatically entered in this contest. One lucky winner will become the star of their very own horror short story written by yours truly and published later this summer on iHorror.com!

Click here to read the announcement over on iHorror.com

Update: Congrats to contest winner Ian Murphy, who was randomly chosen out of hundreds of entries to star in his very own horror story!

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