Quick-Tip Tuesday: Cutting Out the Filler

We’ve recently learned that our younger daughter is gluten-intolerant. (Yes, this is relevant. I promise. Bear with me.) And in discovering this, we have learned we can’t always assume we know what’s in the food we’ve been eating. It’s not that apples suddenly have gluten in them, but rather that lots of processed foods have hidden fillers, and these fillers often include gluten-rich ingredients.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m in the process of editing my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle (Children of Amarid, The Outlanders, Eagle-Sage) for reissue later this year. Children of Amarid is already in production and on schedule for a July release, and I’m most of the way through The Outlanders right now.

I’ve noticed an incredible amount of extra verbiage in my early books — filler, if you will: superfluous words that add little to the storytelling, but clutter up my prose. For the wordiness-intolerant, […]

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Verb Tense: how to say when we mean Part II

Verb forms, Part II: The Passive Voice

A month ago I discussed the passive voice. Passive voice shifts the focus of the sentence from the actor to the recipient of the action.

Two weeks ago, I discussed the formation of the various tenses in English and the convenient formula that will give them to you. For active voice, just as a reminder, our formula:


T (M) (have + -en) (be + -ing) MV


Tense, modal auxiliary, have + the past participle, be + the present participle, and the Main Verb. Everything in parenthesis is optional, allowing us to create all the versions—past, present, and future—that English uses.

The passive includes one more addition to the formula.

A brief refresher:


Active: Tommy hit the ball.

Passive: The ball was hit (by Tommy).


We don’t need the “by Tommy” in the passive sentence to make the sentence grammatically […]

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Lessons Learned While Preparing for a Writer’s Workshop

I am back from an extended vacation with my family, which ended with a glorious week on the North Carolina coast. I am tanned and reasonably relaxed, and am already getting ready to leave town again first thing tomorrow morning. (This has been a crazed summer: by the time the two months between July 1 and September 1 are done, I will have spent forty days on the road. Signing tour, vacation, conventions, oh, and taking my daughter to college.) Tomorrow I head to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, where I will be running a two day writer’s workshop and then will be Guest of Honor at WhenWordsCollide.

As part of my preparation for the workshop, I have been reading manuscripts submitted by those who will be attending. Using a structure very similar to that outlined by Mindy in her fabulous post from Friday, I write editorial letters to the students […]

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