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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday 13 Shows I love to watch.

  1. Castle ( ABC) - I think Nathan Fillon is awesome and I  believe Richard Castle is an ancestor of Malcolm Reynolds.  The humor is similar between the characters
  2. Body of Proof (ABC) -I'm not sure why I love this show but I seem to be on a crime spree lately - showwise that is.
  3. Unforgettable (CBS) - This is about a detective with hyperthymesia, also called Superior Autobiographical Memory.  Mary Lou Henner has this ability and is listed in the credits.
  4. CSI ( CBS) - I'm really enjoying Ted Danson this season.
  5. The Secret Circle (Thursdays CW) - I'm not sure what drew me to this teen focused paranormal show but so far I like it. 
  6. The Mentalist (CBS) - I was really hoping Red John was dead.
  7. Supernatural (CW) - I was a late starter into this show and began watching the third season.  I started buying the DVD's and am pretty much in it for the life of the show.  I was really hoping there was be a Wild West Spin-off giving the history of the relics, hunters, etc. but alas no. :(
  8. Amazing Race (CBS)- One of my favorite reality shows.  I love the weekly locales and places they visit.
  9. Sons of Anarchy (FX) - Once again I began watching this series in it's third season on Hulu.  Got the husband addicted to it.  Went back and bought seasons 1&2.  Looks like Hulu won't be airing any more FX episodes though.   I guess I'll have to wait for season 4 on DVD. Ugh!
  10. Swamp People (History Channel) - The Alligator Hunting season is over but this one is an addiction at my house.  The whole family roots for their swampers.
  11. Ax Men  (History Channel) - My husband got me into this one in the Swamp People off-season.
  12. Psych (TBS) - I checked out seasons 1&2 from the library and now I'm hooked.  This comedic version of the Metalist reminds me of '80's style TV mysteries (Murder she wrote, Matlock, etc.).  I love looking for the pineapples (or references) in the episodes.
  13. Grimm (NBC) - okay it's not out yet (October 28th) but I'm so looking forward to this show, I just know I'll love it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Editing for Passive Voice

Editing for Passive Voice by Ross Martinek
Use the table below to find passive voice in your work. If you do this exercise for ten chapters, you will find yourself spotting and eliminating passive voice as you write. The instructions are for MS Word 2011 (2010 on Windows, IIRC), but should be similar in earlier versions. I use this and it works. I wrote scientific works for over forty years, where passive voice is nearly required, rather than tolerated.
The definition of passive voice (from, an excellent grammar reference site):
“A passive voice sentence will always have:
1.  a form of “to be” + past participle for the verb (was called, will be thrown)
2.  subject of the sentence receives action rather than doing the action
3.  doer of action (if stated) is in a prepositional phrase beginning with by (or to).”
Memorizing this will help, but the instructions below work better.

Target words for passive voice
had/have/was/ were/been/be/by/to /could/would/should/

Turn off Track Changes
Open Advanced Find
Type target word (one at a time) in search box
Select “Find whole words”
Select “Highlight all items”
Click Find
Click Title Bar of document.
Click highlight color (something you can read through)
Repeat as desired.
Turn on Track Changes
Edit and review
Turn off Track Changes
Advanced Find: Clear find box and any other search criteria check boxes
Select Highlight under the Format drop down
Select Highlight all items
Click find
Click Title Bar of Document
Select None in the highlight color dropdown menu.

*The MS Word grammar checker is essentially useless except for three things: passive voice, cliché, and colloquialisms. After you think you’ve found all the passive voice in your document, try the following.
Open Word Preferences.
Click on Spelling and Grammar
In the Grammar section, clear all check boxes except “Show readability statistics.”
In the Grammar section, click on the pull down for Writing style and select “Custom.”
Click the “Settings…” button next to that pull down.
Clear all check boxes except “Passive sentences,” “Clichés,” “Colloquialisms,” and “Sentence length.”
Click the “Okay” button to close the dialog.
NOTE: If you have previously checked either grammar or spelling, you must click the “Recheck Document” button or Word will ignore everything you want it to find! You must do this every time you want to check the document for these things.
Click the “Okay” button to close the preferences window.
Turn on “Track changes” and have at it.

Remember that not all passive sentences are bad. Sometimes they are necessary. More often, they are not.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Review: Ringer

Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new project, Ringer, has been picked up by the CW network for a full season. I’m sure fans of Sarah’s are overjoyed, because she’s an excellent actress - smart, pretty, and fun.

I saw the series opener and was disappointed. I felt little sympathy for the main character, a former addict with six months’ sobriety. She visits her twin sister to make amends as part of her journey to sobriety, and the sister seems to forgive her. They go out on her sister’s boat and our main character falls asleep.

That’s when it gets weird.

When she wakes up, there’s a bottle of sleeping pills with only her sister’s wedding ring inside. The sister is gone, presumably having committed suicide over the side of the boat. Our main character then goes back to shore and does what any good Samaritan would do:

She assumes her twin’s identity.

See, that’s where I have trouble with it. I know we’re supposed to be sympathetic to her, because she’s kind to the husband and nice to the friend, breaks up with the man her sister had an affair with, etc. etc. But I just can’t get over the idea that someone would blithely take over their sibling’s life, live in their marriage bed and continue their friendships, with nary a twinge of ethical remorse.

I might watch a couple more episodes, because a good series sometimes takes awhile to find its footing. But for right now, I say two thumbs down.

Have you seen it? What do you think? Tell us, in comments!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday 13 October 6, 2011 - Why I shouldn't be at work today

  1. I need to write. My WIP is staring at me unforgivingly as if to say, "I'm more important than eating or health insurance"
  2. My Physical health. Now which is healthier, sitting behind a computer under flourescent lighting or doing laps in the swimming pool? Need I say more?
  3. My Mental health. I pet my computer today!
  4. We are having unusually beautiful weather in Chicago for October and I'm hermetically sealed 17 stories up with no windows.
  5. I need to be planning my fun and festive halloween party.
  6. Nothing fun for lunch today.
  7. Have a list at home of at least 12 phone calls I need to make.
  8. I could be tweeting.I have 30 followers yay!
  9. I am mourning the loss of Steve Jobs.
  10. I need toothpicks to keep my eyes open.
  11. My doggies are at home missing me.
  12. There are people in the office hacking and sneezing and I can feel the germs trying to get in.
  13. I'm at work writing my Thursday 13 instead of actually working

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Interview with an Evie Winner - Renee Yates

Welcome to the first interview with one of our 2011 Evie Winners - Renee Yates who won in the Fiction Category.  Renee pitched at the Evanston Writer's Workshop Conference and received a contract.  Please join me in welcoming Renee Yates!

Renee, I want to first congratulate you on your contract with Whispers Publishing!
Can you tell us a little bit about the book contracted ?
The title of the book is The White Nightgown.  It is a story about a thirty-six-year-old African-American woman, Michelle, who marries a Jewish man, David, and their difficult relationships with his mother.  I'm told that it is scheduled to be released early next year (2012), perhaps February.  But that's tentative right now.
Did your publisher say what they liked about your piece?
Yes, Jessica Damien, my editor at Whispers Publishing put it this way:
"The White Nightgown grips the heart in a tear-jerking squeeze as the reader delves into the pathos, depression, and the despairing emotions of the characters.  The gritty, down-to-earth reality of the story begs the hope of a happy ending, and one can't put down the book until the end.
This is the sort of story a lot of publishers seem afraid to publish, but it fits in well with Whispers' new search for a broader range of plot devices.  We are looking forward to extending our readership with stories like this, which bravely go beyond the typical."
You won the Evanston Writers Contest with a different story.  What was your inspiration for the Evie winning short story, “The Easter Outfit.”
"The Easter Outfit" was inspired by memories of how exciting it was for me to get a new outfit every year for Easter when I was a child; and a disturbing experience I had with a neighbor around age eight or nine.  Even though the story was inspired by personal, unconnected events, it is pure fiction.
Do you have any writing rituals that you follow on a regular basis?
Not really.  Even though I actually began writing in the late 1980s, I still think of myself as a new writer.  I’m still trying to figure out what type of rituals or schedule will work for me.  Right now, I just write when characters speak to me or when ideas occur to me.  That can happen at any moment because the people and events that occur throughout my daily activities often inspire ideas and character thoughts. However, lately, I found that regular meditation and Yoga helps to keep my mind open to ideas.
My Macbook and a smart phone with a Notes application and a voice recorder.
If you could only answer one question, what would it be, and how would you answer?
The question:  What is the key to true happiness?
The answer:  Mindfulness
Dark or milk chocolate?
Coffee or tea?
Thanks Renee for taking the time to interview with ShopNotes.  Keep us posted on your career as we'd love to hear how things are going for one of our first Evie winners.  

If you would like to interview for ShopNotes please contact me at

Editor in Chief 
What are your must-have writing tools?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Silly Saturday!

Here are 8 words that the internet loves to confuse. (Just don't be drinking anything while you're reading, or you'll risk choking.)