Clean it up!

I’m not talking cuss words. I’m talking junk words.

Useless words

I turned in the line edits for my holiday story, MONTANA MIRACLE, yesterday. I love the editorial process because it helps me spit-shine and polish my work. When a writer is in the creative mode, the internal editor needs to stay in the backseat…with earbuds on…listening to rock music. When you hit Editville, the two should switch places.

I have two heavy crosses to bear: passive tense and junk words.


Junk words take up space, distract and fail to impress. Here’s an excellent blog on the subject by BookBub blogger, Diana Urban. She also gives you step-by-step tips on how to seek and destroy these junk words in your masterpiece. 43 WORDS

Passive tense is a curse because most of the time it’s easier to describe something that happened rather than get down and dirty in the action, experiencing the grit and gore, pain and pathos. But action is where the story lives!!!

As my friend, Annie Jones advises: Don’t let the zombies catch you writing in passive voice.

passive zombies Annie Jones


Writerly advice complete. Have a great reading and/or writing weekend, my friends. If you haven’t snuggled up with a rogue yet, MONTANA ROGUE is available on all platforms.

BTW, update to last week’s blog: hubby and I LOVED “The Martian.” Listening to the audiobook while driving made the miles fly past. We even have a date night planned to see the movie.




Cue the zombies

I was reminded today by my writer friend, Annie Jones, that the Passive Voice is something most authors deal with regularly—while being chased by zombies.

passive zombies Annie Jones

Need a definition? I borrowed this from ReadWriteThink:

Active Voice
A feature of sentences in which the subject performs the action of the verb and the direct object is the goal or the recipient: The mechanic fixed the car.

Passive Voice

A feature of sentences in which the object or goal of the action functions as the sentence subject and the main verb phrase includes the verb to be and the past participle: The car was fixed by the mechanic.

In my opinion, some passive voice is allowed–called for, even. Reflecting on the past, setting the scene, basic description, adding a softer cadence to your flow, and providing background harmony provide necessary components of a book. But when you’re in the thick of things, when verbal jabs are flying or critical action is taking place, keep things active.

I’m working on the revisions of my next Big Sky Mavericks book, MONTANA HERO. In my defense, first drafts for me are all about learning who my characters are and what drives them in the story. I “see” things happening in my mind and record that action from the outside looking in–until I reach a place where the characters take over.

Here’s a scene I grabbed at random from Chapter 2.


The door was open. She knew the drill: sign in and take a seat. Just like in a doctor’s office. Which reminded her, Flynn had called in a few minutes before she left that he was taking a possible “broken ankle” to be X-rayed. He didn’t say who the victim was or how he came across the problem, since they hadn’t received a call.


The outer office door stood open. She knew the drill: sign in and take a seat–just like in a doctor’s office. Doctor. The word reminded her of Flynn’s call a few minutes earlier.

“Taking possible “broken ankle” to ER 4 X-ray,” he’d texted.

Who broke an ankle? Where did the accident take place? Why didn’t Dispatch get the call? Is my gung-ho new boss out recruiting victims?

A definite improvement, wouldn’t you agree?

I just printed Annie’s adorable meme to hang beside my desk as a reminder. Wish me luck.

Deb, actively working on her manuscript…while being chased by zombies…