Archive | July 2012

All Apologies

My dearest minions,

I have been dealing with technological issues for quite some time, and those of you who follow me on Twitter or are on my Facebook can attest to the frustration I have experienced over the past several weeks. It’s been a nightmare. I was in technology hell, but I’ve found an escape route…

G brought me a new tower and I picked up a Wi-Fi USB adapter on Sunday, and TA DA! We have an Internet connection! Granted, I’m on my desktop now and laptopless because the motherboard pretty much fried on that bitch, but at least I can work again, and now being confined to my cave of a bedroom in order to do all of this, I should get more work done, right? RIGHT???

Of course.

So all apologies for the blank week (it was just one week, right?). I’ll get back on track next week, starting with another Writing/Editing post.

Peace out, bitches!

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Writing/Editing Tip of the Week – Passive Voice

Since the spammers are being stupid now and only leaving me comments with links, which I won’t EVER approve OR discuss outside of this sentence due to their subject matter (things best left for erotic tales and little blue pills), I will now have to switch topics. So there will be no more Spam Comment posts. My apologies. Hang the spammers, if you can find the little bastards. Let me know, though, because I’d very much like to pull that lever.

I know there are a ton of writing rules out there these days, and the agents and editors aren’t always correct. Shocker, I know, but I mean, hell, look at 50 Shades of Grey (yes, it was essentially self-published first, but a larger house picked it up). That book is an editing nightmare…but that’s just my opinion. A lot of people really seem to love it. Good for them. There are a lot of vanilla people out there who know nothing about that world. I won’t be reading it without a red pen.

Sharon, my business partner in Running Ink Press, and I believe that you should Write Outside the Box! A lot of the “rules” are out the window with us because, well, we tend to disagree on the accuracy of said rules (for instance, she’s running a Save the Adverbs campaign), but regardless of what we believe, we don’t want the “rules” to hinder your writing style. NOTE: We are not accepting public submissions at this time, but we will announce when we are ready to do so. Subscribe to RIP for updates.

That said, I’d like to discuss some of the things that grate on my nerves I edit when I’m working on someone’s (or my own) novel.

This week’s tip is: Passive voice.

Some agents/editors don’t care for it. Some don’t give a shit either way. Some might try to strangle you if you use passive voice, so be careful. If Terry Brooks tried to publish The Sword of Shannara today, he’d get turned down MULTIPLE times, and not just because of passive voice. He head-hops like no one I’ve ever seen. It’s insane. But damn, is that a good book!

Basically, passive voice can be something you don’t realize you’re doing until someone points it out. For instance, using was with an -ed or -ing ending word is passive, though not always. If it’s not active, it’s passive, and passive isn’t always good. I believe there are times when you just can’t write around this instance, but most of the time you can. My rule is that if you can change the sentence and make it better without using the was -ed or -ing combo, great. You’ve just improved as a writer. But if it’s impossible to change, it’s not a big deal. Sometimes, we just have to use that combo. Sometimes, we just have to write passively, and it’s okay.

So you want an example. Okay, fine. I’ll pull something from one of my own files. That’s right, yours truly has used passive voice numerous times in the past. Sharon can attest to that, and I’m surprised I’m still alive. Oh look, I’m editing a vampire novel I wrote back in 1999. There are a TON of amateur writer mistakes in that. Lucky you. I’m in the midst of a sex scene, though, so you’ve been warned. HA!

Example from The Vampyre Prophecy:

The salty taste excited him because it was like tasting victory after catching his prey.

Yeah, I know, it’s a horrid sentence. I wrote that shit 13 years ago. So where’s the passive voice? Let’s take a look…

The salty taste excited him because it was like tasting victory after catching his prey.

The words marked in red obviously signify the passive voice. When you read the entire sentence, you see that I’m telling you what’s happening here. I’m not showing you or allowing you to taste the victory yourself. That’s the issue. So let’s fix it.

The salty taste excited him because it tasted like victory after catching his prey.

See how much cleaner that is, how it flows better, rolls off the tongue better? Now it’s not so passive. Now you can kind of taste the victory instead of me telling you what it tasted like, I can only hope. I could even go further in the edit…

The salty taste excited him. It tasted like victory after catching his prey.

Imagine what it’s going to be like once he’s tasted her blood.

By the way, I almost missed that sentence in this edit, so I’m glad I came up with the idea for this post!

Professional Example (taken from Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliott, Ph.D. – I used to work with kids, people):

Passive: The ball was hit.

Active: Zhen hit the ball.

In the active sentence, we see who hit the ball. That’s important. When the person doing the action isn’t important, then passive voice is okay, such as in the following sentence:

The cafeteria food was contaminated.

No one cares who did it; just that it happened.

There you go, your writing/editing tip for the week. When you’re writing those words today, watch out for passive voice! And if you’re editing for someone else, keep an eye out for it!

I started out titling this post Editing Tip of the Week, but realized this might be more about writing than editing. Really, it’s both. You decide. Tell me in the comments below if this Monday post should be:

Editing Tip – 

Writing Tip – 

Thanks!

And now that I’ve been completely distracted from my novel, I’m going to squeeze in a bit more editing before bed.

That Feeling…

…when even though you’re surrounded by people, you feel utterly alone.

Ever feel like that?

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve been without a dog in the house. Twenty. Fucking. Years. I can’t even really begin to describe how it feels aside from the statement above. I miss my Moonbug, my K’Lar, my MacLeod, my Scully…my Leo, who’s still alive but I’ll never see him again. Not having a dog in my house is a whole new kind of loneliness I’ve only ever felt once in my life. It’s torment.

But there’s more…

It has now been almost one week since I quit smoking. Yeah, I know. Yay for me. Woo-hoo. Go Jinxie! That’s not how I feel, though. I started smoking (cloves) when I was 15. A year later, I moved to cigarettes. Not sure why, but I did. I hate the taste and smell of cigarettes, but I like smoking. Yes, that’s damn weird for someone who’s smoked for nearly 30 years. I’ve quit at least 3 times. Once for 2 years. I can’t even remember why I started again, except for the last time. That was when I had the miscarriage. That life-altering event amongst many life-altering events that have warped my life into something unrecognizable.

And they would, because I certainly do most of the time…when I can actually see the stars.

But wait, there’s more…

I had a breakdown on Saturday morning. I hadn’t had one of those in a while, so I guess it was due, but still. Damn. It was a conglomeration of every single damn thing that is happening to me. Those two things above. The constant pain. The fatigue. I’m fucking tired, people.

Regardless of the feeling alone, of the pain, of the fatigue, of feeling like a failure at times because I’m 43 and so NOT where I wanted to be at this age…I said many years ago that I wanted to retire by 40. This is NOT the kind of retirement I was talking about…but regardless of all of it, I still somehow push forward with a strength I don’t understand, my grandfather’s words echoing in my head…

You’re strong enough for this, for what’s coming

What the FUCK does that mean, gramps? Honestly. Could you be any more vague?

At any rate, I still push forward, working out, trying to eat better, not smoking so I don’t die in 10 years, working on getting Running Ink Press somewhere so I have a legacy to give to no one, do whatever I can for Zombie Survival Crew, do the ghostwriting, and somewhere in the midst of all of that I try to find time to work on my own goddamn books…through the pain and the fog and the fatigue.

But I’m still really fucking tired, and there are some days when I just don’t want to get out of bed because what’s the point? Really. I hate feeling like this, and it’s not the first time I’ve been here. Though I haven’t quite fallen into the well again, so that’s a good start. For the past 20 years, those dogs have gotten me out of bed.

Now, I do it all for Umi, though I really wish I could do more for her. That’s when I feel like a failure. When I ask that question, “What the fuck is my purpose here if I can’t DO anything in this condition?”

I write, yes. That doesn’t require physical exertion, thank the gods, but it does require a clear mind. When the fog isn’t there, I create worlds, destroy some of them, kill people who piss me off, bring people together…make you laugh, cry, jump out of your seat or throw the book across the room. I make my worlds real for you so when you read them, they punch you in the gut when you close the book, because then it’s over and you don’t want it to end.

You have no idea how much I live in those worlds, because reality bites.

But I still need to make money, to work a job (if I can find one), just like the rest of the world. And physically, I can’t do most jobs anymore. So, writing, it is. That’s how I have to make a living, folks. When you buy a book from RIP, I get a percentage of that. Same with ZSC. When you buy my jewelry or crafts, I get most of that. This is all I have left. That’s not meant to guilt you into buying something. It just is. This is how I live now.

It’s depressing. It’s daunting. It’s fucking stupid that I’ve been placed in this position, and it makes me wonder if I asked to be challenged far beyond that which I ever have in any other lifetime. Seriously. My life has been a series of road blocks.

I know we make our own destiny. I’m trying to carve mine, but sometimes, you don’t get all the tools you need to carve that path, so you have to improvise. Mostly, it just pisses me off that some people are handed every tool necessary and the rest of us have to figure shit out on our own.

I guess I should take a clue from my K’Lar….

…and always look over the edge.

Opportunities lie in wait in the oddest of places.

You have no idea how high that cliff was. She scared the hell out of me that day, even though I stopped freaking out long enough to snap this photo. K’Lar was damn bold for her 65 lbs.

I should be more like her.

I have a hammer, a chisel, and some rope for getting down that cliff, and I’ll be carving my own path from this point forward, because I’m fucking tired of playing by everybody else’s rules. I WILL be releasing two vamp books this year, and possibly another book. And nothing is going to stop me short of death!

My Moonbug

Most of you know that I had to euthanize Moon last Friday, June 29th, only two months before her 12th birthday. Sadly, this is my reality.

The other reality is that this post may make you tear up. I’m tearing up just writing it, which is why I likely subconsciously put it off until now.

What you may or may not know is that six years and three weeks before this horrible event in my life, I did the same thing with my other two dogs while my ex-husband did the same with our wolf mix. All in the same week. Scully – June 4th (the wolf; she was 10). MacLeod – June 5th (he was 15). K’Lar – June 9th (which was incidentally her 14th birthday). Devastating. The week before my birthday. People don’t understand how I stayed sane.

Well, I haven’t really been sane for quite some time now. My birthday the following week ended up being a three-day celebration.

And last Friday took another notch off my sanity after quite a bit of it shattered over the past three and a half years, which is peppered all over this blog, so I don’t need to explain that. The last of my pack is now gone. There isn’t another dog or any type of pet in the house (unless you count the crickets) to help ease the pain like Moon did for me six years ago. I don’t want another one right now.

I somehow managed another three-day celebration, this time for Moon’s life.

I made the choice because Moon’s back legs were getting worse. It’d reached the point where not only was I helping her stand up, but I also had to help her lie down so she wouldn’t hit the ground so hard. She could still walk, for the most part, but her legs were bowing outward and unstable ground was not her friend. I made the choice for her. If you’ve ever owned a pet, you understand what I’m talking about.

Umi and I are both completely overwhelmed by the show of support from all of you. Umi is especially blown away by the support of friends whom I have never met in person. She doesn’t understand it, much like she doesn’t understand the zombie stuff, but that’s okay. We’ll just smile and nod.

So I thank you, dear friends, for the support, for buying jewelry from me so I could afford the whole thing and get Moon’s ashes. I’m not certain you really understand how important it was to me that you bought items I made rather than donated the cash. It made me feel good because I worked for it. Thank you!

Goodbye, my darling Moonbug. I feel your presence when I walk through the room. I hear your voice as you try to get my attention. And I still cry when I look over the edge of my bed in the morning and don’t see you there. I love you, child o’ mine.

Skylar Moon
August 28, 2000 – June 29, 2012