Sadness

Hello everyone. I am so sorry for this incredibly long overdue post. Obviously, I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I am sure some of you have wondered why.

Roughly six months ago, my older sister, Michelle Boyer Dykstra, tragically passed away. It was so sudden and unexpected that I can still barely believe it is real. The impact of her death left me breathless and utterly discombobulated. Not only was Michelle my dearly-loved sister, an amazing person, and an incredible friend, she was also my first reader and editor.

Now, as the hours dissolve into days, which turn into weeks, which blend into months, I have slowly tried to pull myself together and chart a new path forward. Even though book three is done and book four is mostly completed, I have chosen to search for an agent rather than continue to self-publish. I have also set aside my blogging and posting as I adopt to several major life changes, including moving into a new home and working on my own, rather than with my father at my side, as was the case for the past twenty years.

Please wish me luck and good wishes. I am so grateful for the support of my friends, fans, and the entire Bobby Ether community. I promise I will do what I can to bring you more of his adventures in the future.

Truly,

Scott Boyer

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I Need Your Help!

Hi everyone. I am SO sorry for this long overdue update. As many of you know, book three has been finished for quite a while. However, I have delayed its publication indefinitely as I undertake a project to rebrand the entire series, including new cover designs, possible title changes, and content changes to the first two novels.

And I could really use your help!

As part of the rebranding project, I am looking for feedback on book one. If you’ve already read Bobby Ether and the Academy, please spare five minutes to complete this fillable questionnaire (You can do so anonymously if you’d like).

Otherwise, if you haven’t read my first book but are willing to do so, I will gladly send you a free digital copy in exchange for a completed questionnaire once you’re done.

My goal for completing this project is Mid-July, so please consider that date as the deadline for reading and returning the questionnaire.

As always, thank you to all of my wonderful fans and supporters. I appreciate all of encouragement you provide me as I work to establish this series.

Truly,

R Scott Boyer

P.S. For your free digital copy, simply email me at scoby27@yahoo.com and let me know what file type you’d like (epub, mobi, pdf, etc.). I can also provide instructions on how to load the file onto a Kindle device.

P.S.S. I will also consider sending a hard copy to people who do not have an electronic reader. However, before requesting a hard copy, please be truthful and consider the cost on my behalf (both for the book itself and for the shipping/handling). i.e. Please ask for a hard copy only if you really have no access to a digital device.

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Updates

High Resolution Front Cover.5711857Hello everyone. I am excited to announce several big updates relating to my Bobby Ether series. First of all, the homepage for book three, Bobby Ether and the Great Sphinx, now includes an updated description of the book, along with the newly revealed cover illustration, also located here.

Second, the manuscript for the book is done. I just got back the interior proof from my publisher today. That means that book three is hopefully just a week or two away from being released.

Lastly, I have been busy on Facebook adding images and creating a new page for this latest addition. The pages for the two previous titles, Academy and Temple of Eternity, are now updated and include sample pages for you to enjoy. The Great Sphinx page is brand new and also contains a reading sample.

Feel free to connect with me on Facebook. Even if you’ve already read the books, why not stop by and give Bobby a thumbs up?

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The Use of “Said”

I really like this post by Melissa Eskue Ousley regarding the use (and potential overuse) of said as a dialog tag. I am firmly in the camp of those who believe that dialog tags should typically be small and unobtrusive. Yes, said may be boring, but it’s very much alive specifically because it’s boring. The eyes of most readers will pass right over a said tag without pause. And that’s usually exactly what you want.

The more elaborate or unique a dialog tag, the more it will slow the pace of your writing. Whether it’s through the use of adverbs, or a tag other than said, the reader is far more likely to pause to absorb those words. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s not.

The last thing I want in my action scenes is for a reader to stop to digest an obtrusive tag with a lengthy string of adverbs.

That ‘said’ (sorry for the pun), there are times when a non-said may be called for. Whenever you want to draw attention to how something is said, not just what is said; that is a great time to use a different tag. Just be mindful. Don’t overuse other tags and stick with said whenever it’s important to maintain flow.

I agree with Melissa that it’s OK to mix it up, but my added suggestion would be to only mix it up when doing so serves a purpose, and always weigh the gain in impact against the decrease in pace.

Happy writing 🙂

– Scott

Are You Overusing “Said”

Recently, I had a discussion with a fellow writer about the word said. “Said is dead,” he told me, arguing that I should not attribute dialogue with said, which he thought to be overdone and outdated. While we agreed we should avoid adverbs in our writing, he felt said was a boring way to show which character was speaking, and suggested I “mix it up” by using other words.

Citing Stephen King’s On Writing, I disagreed, and shared why the word is still useful. It is part of the scaffolding of writing—when we use said, we give readers a cue about who is talking, but we don’t break the flow of reading. Nothing is worse than using a word that pulls your reader out of a story.

It’s easy to see how adverbs can break the flow of reading.

“You’ll never take me alive,” he cried bravely.

There’s a ridiculous amount of drama in that sentence, unless of course, the writing is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. However, you can overdo dialogue attribution even if you are avoiding adverbs. When you use overpowered words, you run the risk of turning dialogue into a soap opera.

“How could you?” he gasped. “I loved you.”
“I know,” she purred, “but I didn’t love you.”

Have I sinned in my own writing? You betcha. I caught my worst sin after a manuscript was published, and had to ask that the book be revised when a new edition was going to be released. The offending word? Coo. My character was raving about a pasta dish, and somehow the dialogue got tagged with the word coo. I don’t know about you, but I have never cooed over carbohydrates. An infant or a puppy, perhaps, but never pasta. I was mortified to see that kind of error in a published novel. The horror! Maybe I hadn’t yet mastered dialogue attribution, but I continue to refine my writing, revising my work with a critical eye.

If you still feel you must deviate from said, you can, to some extent. You can use shouted or whispered, among other words, to show how a person said something. If you show what a character is doing, you can sometimes eliminate dialogue attribution altogether, pairing the dialogue with action:

She cocked the gun and pointed it at the hostage. “Lower your weapon, or I shoot him.”
He placed his revolver on the floor and stood, hands raised to show he wasn’t a threat.
“Now kick it away,” she said.

See? No fancy dialogue attribution required. The first sentence puts the dialogue in context by showing what is happening, providing clues about how something is said.

The third sentence uses said to tag the dialogue without disrupting the flow. Said isn’t dead. Said is a valid way to tag dialogue.

Do you think that said is overused?

About the Author:
Melissa Eskue Ousley is the award-winning author of The Solas Beir Trilogy, a young adult fantasy series. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found hiking, swimming, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

Before she became a writer, she had a number of enlightening jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway, to years of conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona. Her interests in psychology, culture, and mythology have influenced her writing of The Solas Beir Trilogy.

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Love this article. Great reminder about the ways and reasons to control the pace of your story. I especially like her comments about big words slowing a scene (lol) and the use of staccato dialog in fast scenes. I rarely write long monologues, but its worth remembering the impact extended dialogue can have on the flow of a story. I also like June’s comments about variation. I often have to remember to slow down, to give readers a chance to catch their breath in between big action scenes. What tendencies do you have in your writing style? Feel free to post a comment and share. — Scott

Ways To Control The Pace of Your Writing

I was listening to a CD by the Seekers while driving the length of the New Jersey Turnpike. As the highway slid under my car, song after song sculpted my mood. Some tunes were brisk and upbeat; others, haunting, even mournful. So I thought about the scenes in a novel, that they should be ordered like the songs on a CD. Their pace should vary. Too many fast-paced scenes in succession exhaust readers; too many slow ones bore them.

So how can you control the pace of a scene?

You can slow the pace by using the passive voice; narration; and longer words, sentences, and paragraphs. Complex sentences and nuanced paragraphs invite your readers to reflect on their meanings, and multi-syllable words slow down readers’ eyes. So use slow-paced scenes to focus on details, complicate a problem, set up a later scene, and develop a character.

Conversely, to increase tension and heighten suspense, you can quicken the pace by cutting out all but the action. Use staccato dialog, familiar words, and simple declarative sentences, even occasional fragments. Make the paragraphs short and snappy. The white spaces invite readers’ eyes to fly down the page. Of course, save the fastest pace for the climax scene, when your protagonist, apparently in a hopeless situation, engages in a titanic struggle to triumph over the antagonist.

The pace of a scene communicates a mood. So be sure it suits the scene’s function. When you’re ready to critique your work, read each scene aloud while concentrating on whether the mood matches the function. And finally, when you’ve written a series of scenes, check that their rhythms vary. Remember, novels like CDs are tiresome when the rhythm is constant.

About the Author:
June Trop and her twin sister Gail wrote their first story, “The Steam Shavel [sic],” when they were six years old growing up in rural New Jersey. They sold it to their brother Everett for two cents.

Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she devotes her time to writing historical mysteries with a connection to early science. Her heroine, Miriam bat Isaac, is based on the personage of Maria Hebrea, the legendary founder of Western alchemy, who developed the concepts and apparatus alchemists and chemists would use for 1500 years.

June lives with her husband Paul Zuckerman in New Paltz, where she is breathlessly recording the story of her plucky heroine’s next life-or-death exploit.

You can find out more about her on her website www.junetrop.com and on Facebook

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Book Three

I am pleased to announce that the third book in my Bobby Ether series, Bobby Ether and the Great Sphinx, is now in the publication process. Cover art and copy text are being created while I work on a final draft to send off for line editing. I expect the process to be complete and the book available sometime either late this year or early 2016. Stay tuned!

More details on the story behind book three can be found on its new homepage, located here.

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Why Your Writing Process ROCKS!

Below is a fantastic article about the writing process and why no single piece of advice, no matter who provides it, is ever perfect. The bottom line of the article is that we are all different, and what works for someone else may not work for you. By all means, listen and absorb advice from others, especially noteworthy authors, but take it with a grain of salt. And don’t be afraid to buck the trend. If something works for you, stick with it, even if it contradicts someone else’s advice. When its all said and done, your writing process only needs to have one thing in common with other authors: you have to actually write. As long as the writing gets done, nothing else truly matters. #writerswrite

– Scott

P.S. Make sure to read through to the end of the article and check out the wonderful quotes Massimo provided. Definitely inspiring.

P.S.S. – For those of you following my Bobby Ether series: I recently had some interest from an agent on book three. Unfortunately, it didn’t materialize into a deal, leaving me still to decide whether I want to continue the search for an agent or self-publish number three the way I did the first two. Stay tuned!

Why Your Writing Process ROCKS!

 August 17, 2015

Among the questions writers torture themselves with are whether we should write the complete work then edit, or edit as we go along. Should we create biographies of our characters before hand or invent them as we develop the story? Should writers do the first draft by hand then type into the computer or go directly to the keyboard? Should they have fixed writing hours or not? Is it important to write daily or not?

The answer is yes to all of the above, or not. Confusing? You bet.

The Writing Process. (My apologies, Dr. Seuss)

I can write in a car,
I can write by a fire,
I can write in a boat, I can write on a float.
I can write on a table, I can write when I’m able;
I can write anywhere.

I’ve read a few how-to-write books, followed online creative writing courses, read blogs of established authors. All of which I have come through, the amount of contradictory advice is only limited by the number of pages I have read. Does this mean that all writing advices should be disregarded? Not at all – if so I’d give up writing this post or past others about writing techniques.

When I had the venture to discuss with other successful writers about their working habits, I have discovered they are as varied as their personalities. Some are extremely disciplined, they set aside a time each day to write, stick to a minimum number of words no matter what. Others cram writing time around the many responsibilities. If any common factor exists, it is their extreme seriousness about their work.

Many things in this world can be standardized, but standardized creativity is an oxymoron.

The secret is to find what works best for you, and throw away any guilt or inferiority that you are disregarding the advice of Best Selling Author X. Remember, Jeffrey Archer once told would-be writers that the only way they can be successful is to quit their jobs and write full time. Tell that to a single mom trying to finish her first book. The alternative is — of course — getting fired, but that’s another story.

Am I saying the advices of Best Selling Author X, Y, and Z are baseless? Absolutely not. Try their methods, but twist their ideas, adapt them to your needs. You are what you are, if a ‘rule’ existed to describe how to write successful novels, everybody would be a Best Selling Author. Testing allows us to develop new skills, too.

So, shall we continue with the poem?

I can write on my head, I can write in bed,
I can write as I eat, I can write on my feet,
I can write with ink, I can write in a sink;
I can write everywhere.

The important thing to keep in mind is that what works for you might be different, and still be the way to go. Have the confidence to do it as well as the wisdom to know when it needs to be changed. And do it without guilt, or shame.

And now that you’ve got here, you can follow my advice, or not, and disregard every word if it doesn’t work for you; and do it with my blessing.

Some Best Advices

“I merely took the energy it took to pout and wrote some blues.” – Duke Ellington.

“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time… The wait is simply too long.” – Leonard Bernstein

Note: I know the first two quotes are about music, but writing music and writing words are variations of a creative process.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau

Note: I know this is often quoted, but whenever I realise the crowd went in the other direction, I realise that it is okay if I don’t follow.

“Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.” – Jesse Stuart

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” – Joan Didion

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ” – Thomas Mann

And the last one, which I read almost every day to remind myself that the perfect novel doesn’t exist, and there will always be those who will find diamonds in your stories and those who will find nothing:

“’Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem to be confidences or sides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profound thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

About the Author:
Massimo Marino comes from a scientist background: He spent years at CERN and The Lawrence Berkeley Lab followed by lead positions with Apple, Inc. and the World Economic Forum. He is also partner in a new startup in Geneva for smartphone applications: TAKEALL SA. Massimo currently lives in France and crosses the border with Switzerland multiple times daily, although he is no smuggler.

You can find out more about him on his website www.massimomarinoauthor.com and connect with him on Twitter.

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