Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Location: Misbehaving in Candlelight

Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

I Totally Nailed a Lamborghini
The sexiest car on the planet...

...and I slammed into it. We're talking flying metal, glass, blood...I and this amazing car became one. And you can read all about it in Jamieson's serial thriller "Hunted" at I'll be laughing for three days...

Speaking of fabulous cars, anyone going to SEMA in Vegas? Sadly, I am not. I couldn't possibly get myself there in the current "situation," and I would only weep on the cars until nervous-looking security guards escorted me out. And my Camaro would get jealous...

So those of you who haven't done it yet, go read "Hunted"! It's the cheesiest twist you've ever seen. Fabulous!

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

If Anyone Should Ask…
My Elevator Pitch

Choices Meant for Gods is a fantasy story about a young lady who's been on the run from a madman all her life—and when she finally decides to stand and fight, she discovers she's wrapped in centuries of prophecy that involve protecting the gods themselves.

In the publishing industry, writers must summarize their 170,000-word novels in pithy one-sentence glosses like the one above so literary agents can make snap decisions whether or not to represent both the writer and the work before publishers. Sounds glamorous, doesn't it? It's taken me three years to write that sentence. I've written others similar to it, but I like the one above today. I encourage ya'll to use it if anyone should ask, "Hey, what's this Choices Meant for Gods by Sandy Lender about?"

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated quote Monty Python: "I'm not dead yet!"

You can still catch me in the serial thriller "Hunted" by Jamieson Wolf at But I think you better hurry! Sandy Duran just drank half a bottle of vodka (Stoli, I do believe!) and leapt off a balcony, so, ya know, I'm not sure how Jamieson can keep her alive. Unless a fabulous, sleek Corvette breaks her fall. Yummmmm.

And don't forget to scroll down the page here to comment on the lyrics that have influenced you during your life! Today I'm feeling very fond of "Baby, did you forget to take your meds?" from "Meds" by Placebo. It just seems to fit my character jumping from a balcony…

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Give Me The Lyric That Inspires You

Last week, we posted some (okay, a few) lyrics that were giggle-worthy.

This time - it's serious.

Tell me the lyric that has moved you. I want to know what song made you leap for joy, what song made you go over and ask your husband to marry you, what song made you get up and go to college, what song made you join the church choir, what song inspired you to do anything! What song does your church pianist start playing that makes you say "AMEN!"? ("It is Well With My Soul" is the one for me...) What song comes on the radio and makes you stop whatever you're doing to turn it up and just listen...

It will come as NO surprise that I announce here and now that I'm a huge Duran Duran fan (going on 24 years) and every time I hear "Girls on Film," whether it's live, on CD, on DVD, in the car, on the radio (I heard it on a radio station driving back from the John Taylor-Juicy Couture event in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and nearly drove off I-75), I get the happiest feeling in my stomach...and that's not even my favorite Duran song. The two best lyrics (so far) that I believe Simon LeBon has penned are "Keep Me in the Dark" and "Palomino". I'll post the entire lyric to "Keep Me in the Dark" below.

But the song that has most recently inspired me - the one that has given me courage and encouragement is from Mr. Barry Manilow. I owe him many thanks, because his song is correct. Not everyone achieves his or her dream on the first try, especially in the publishing business. (Can I get an amen?) Going through the agent-querying process in the book-publishing industry is a futile exercise, but did I give up on my novel Choices Meant for Gods? No. I tried a different route. I bypassed the people who wouldn't give me the time of day, and now Choices Meant for Gods will be released this March from ArcheBooks Publishing. See, if you give up, you'll never get a "yes". If you stop, if you quit, if you give lose and your dream fades out as it dies without you to support it. And if you don't believe in your dream, well, gee, why should anyone else? Mr. Manilow, you're an inspiration, and your song is fabulous.

God Bless the Other 99
I learned more from failure than I learned from success
I learned from no thank you so much more than from yes
I learned to be willing to lead with my chin
And if I were willing to lose I could win
I learned from the losers who got right back in line
The dimmer their future then the brighter they’d shine
Three cheers for the one, the one in a hundred
But God bless the other ninety nine
Those courageous people changed my life
They taught me
You can give in, you can give out, but you don’t give up

Now the rest of you!

What lyrics have inspired you? Share! And share why!

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Keep Me In The Dark
by Arcadia

When the evening sunlight's fingers stretch across the floor
Cover up your eyes with feathers softly close the door
Take me in your heavy lips take me where the shadows slide
I know you're blind for secrets turning fast and loose
The lacey intrigue of this weekend should not be abused
You can take me where you want but could you take me all the time

Away yeah wait a little longer don't go too far
I wouldn't lie, I wouldn't like you keeping me in the dark

Tender is the truce I'm tasting but watching you dictates
Heady nights of sleepless wasting a face I can't escape
We could wave the world goodbye to all the boys cheerio

Away yeah wait a little longer don't go too far
I wouldn't lie, I wouldn't like you keeping me in the dark

Help me 'cause I'm sinking deeper, tell me what to say
When without words you call me closer each time you turn away
Something inside you cries but is it something I'll never find

Away yeah oh wait a little longer before we go too far
I wouldn't lie, I wouldn't like to think you were keeping me in the dark

(Taylor, Rhodes, LeBon)

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

(And try typing out the lyrics to an Arcadia song while listening to a remix of The Scissor Sisters' "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'". It ain't easy.)
(And, yes, I expect everyone to argue over Line 4 above.)

Where Will You Be Next Christmas?

On a discussion board I frequent, someone lamented how long Christmas took to get "over with" this year. Someone in a writers group I belong to posted how thankful he was that it's past - the sentiment was seconded; the motion carried. A friend called with exhaustion in her voice to say how relieved she was at the passing of the season - then was off to take a long winter's nap. (Isn't there a poem about that with a kerchief and a cap?)

What a shame, thought I, that we're all giving in to the media sensationalized syndromes of depression during the holidays and seasonal emotional disorders and whatever else "they" want to fling at our fragile states of mind. I mean, I'm unemployed, losing my house to foreclosure, and ready to run screaming from the person I was set to divorce seven months ago when the funds for that fell the boys in Monty Python say, always look on the bright side of life. Spending Christmas in this house with an individual I can't actually speak to may seem horrific on the surface - but I spent Christmas calmly, quietly, in my own home. The bank won't take it for at least another 45 days, and I didn't have to sit snowed in at any airport on Christmas Eve. Like the Christmas Carol says: "all is calm; all is bright". I'm thankful for small blessings while I have them.

Maybe next year I'll rejoin the clanging throng of people hustling and bustling through the malls and post offices and train stations. Maybe next December 25 will bring me some new adventure and I'll drop into some easy chair that night saying "wow, I'm glad Christmas is over!" (But I kinda hope those words never escape my lips.) I'd prefer my Christmas next year not involve an oversized cardboard box on the beach with a t-shirt for a curtain, if you catch my drift, but, all in all, I think every experience has taught me to be thankful for the experiences to come. Next year, I don't want to catch myself sending the lyrics to "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses as a pick-me-up to a friend on Christmas Eve. That's pure insanity. Jen, even if it's just a box on the beach, you're invited to my place, Darlin'! Maybe we'll listen to the song in remembrance of this year, and then go out to do something fun!

May your days be merry and bright...and may all your Christmases be white.
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Child Reminds us of Christmas Peace

A writer friend of mine has a blog that you should check out for a couple of those heartwarming kinds of stories that she's posted the past few days.

What got me to thinking was this little tidbit at the end of one post about the stuffed animals that populate the creche under her Christmas tree. A neighbor boy, a mere 10 years of age, went to her house and elected to put a couple of stuffed lions next to the stuffed lamb by the baby Jesus. Not such a moving thought, eh? But then this 10-year-old child quoted a Bible passage to her to explain his actions.

Stop for a minute.

How many 10-year-old children do you know who can just lay down a quote out of Isaiah or Revelation? I used to be the VBS director at my church back home every summer and it was like pulling teeth to get some of those kids to memorize their Bible verses each evening. (And, really, maybe I don't have the right attitude, but I figure, as long as the kid has the Bible open and is reading it, the Holy Spirit is going to work there...memorization not mandatory.) Heck, I went through a Bible study program in which we were supposed to memorize a verse each week and I failed miserably! As an adult! With motivation!

So I looked at the post on Janet's blog for a good long while and I thought about this child for a good long while...and I realized...these kids will surprise you at any time of year, but I particularly liked this one's surprise at this time of year.

So here's my verse for you guys to think on, because this is just as good a time of year as any for peaceful thoughts. "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." -- Luke 2:76-79

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Stepping Through Seagrass
Naples author releases Florida fiction novel

A fellow ArcheBooks author had a book signing event at the Mina Hemingway Florida Book Store this afternoon, and I wanted to tout that to the world for a moment. Linda Bilodeau, whose info can be gathered at is a gracious and lovely lady who has written a fiction story called Stepping Through Seagrass, now available anywhere you typically buy books. It's out in hardback and the ISBN is 1-59507-150-4. I just picked up my copy (and got it signed!) today so I haven't read it yet--can't tell ya what it's about--but I recommend Linda herself! So I encourage you to visit her site (yes, I'm being manipulative by withholding information) and check out her other titles.

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."


Friday, December 22, 2006

Vote Like A Democrat in Chicago...Often!

Okay, guys. Please forgive me...but...if you wouldn't mind...

Duran Duran's "Rio" video is up for nomination as one of the top videos to influence music videos. If you wouldn't mind...this takes all of three seconds to do once the Web site comes up on your screen. All you have to do is scroll to the blurb about Duran Duran's "Rio" (it's the one with the handsome man in a white suit with a blue shirt and white tie on the front of a yacht with his mouth open) and click on "vote for this video" or "vote for it" or whatever the link told me to do at the bottom of the text blurb. The screen will bring up a nice little list where you click on the button for "Rio" and "vote". Easy as pie!


The video is fabulous, by the way. Hot guys, beautiful women, fast boats, cheesy plastic phones, stunning scenery instead of staid studio musicians in white, boring rooms. This was cutting edge in the early '80s and made people sit up and take note...Cherry ice cream smile, kids!

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Gimme Your Favorite O-So Inspired Lyrics

Have you ever been listening to a song on the radio, singin' along, groovin' out, when you suddenly thought, "Wait, what did he just say?" A friend of mine once pointed out that Blondie's "Call Me" has a line that sounds just like she's yelling "corned beef…on rye", and I've not been able to hear the real words since. But the real words to some songs are just as bad as the stuff we imagine we hear. Consider the literary genius of Starship's "We Built This City on Rock and Roll".

My favorite bizarre line out of a contemporary (and I'll use that word in an all-encompassing sense) music song is from Paul Davis's "'65 Love Affair":

Well I acted like a dumb dumb
You were bad with your pom poms

Fabulous. The thing is, I really like the song, but, even as a youngster hearing the song I thought, "Wait, what did he just say?"

One of my girlfriends likes the banality of Toto's "Roseanna, yeah!" Surely we can all get stopped in our tracks by several lyrics out of the Black Eyed Peas's catalog (and don't get me wrong; I love the BEP). So what's your favorite inspired moment of creative writing set to music? What bizarre lyric in a song makes you grin? Share! (Maybe we'll do serious lyrics next time...)

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thanks a Lot
When do you get the cards out?

I have a friend who agonizes over thank-you notes. I don't quite get that. For me, writing a thank-you note is usually pretty easy (once I actually make the time to do it) because I'm truly grateful to people for the stuff they do for me.

It amazes me that I ended up with such incredible friends, and when they make me a CD full of random music they know I'll love or they send me flowers or they band together to pool funds so I can attend a Duran concert during a period of bizarre financial crap or they take me out clubbing for my birthday or "whutevah," I'm excited to send a note to express my appreciation. It's always surprising that someone would want to go to the effort of going to a store for the express purpose of spending money on me, so of course I'm going to be thankful. (And if I've braved the shopping mall experience--and this includes the parking lot--to get your gift, then I must love you immensely.)

So why are thank-you notes difficult for this one friend of mine? Well, he has trouble with writing in general, which also boggles my mind. I tried telling him to "just write what you think as you think it." No dice. So, effusions of gratitude don't pour out of him, but that's okay. He can buy the little notecards at Target and sign his name--coz it's the thought that counts.

So here's my question for anyone reading.

When do you write your thank-you notes for birthday or Christmas (or other) presents? For Christmas in particular, I give it a good, honest effort during the first week of January (my schedule is insane and I tend to write novellas back to people), but I have been known to lose said notes and end up mailing them a month after writing them. Oops. ( schedule is insane.) Do you think two weeks after receipt of the gift is an acceptable time-frame for getting the thank-you note in the post?

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Face to Face with the Muse
A quick thank-you to John Taylor

For all you writers out there, how many of you have real-life muses? See, I have two muses. One is the fictional character Chariss, from Choices Meant for Gods, and she’s very nice. Accommodating. Calm. Reasonable. If I’m exhausted and not able to focus on the computer screen, she doesn’t expect me to write.

The other is a real person, but he has no idea that he is Walking Inspiration Among Mortals because he’s a celebrity whom I merely admire from afar. His “presence in the form of the muse” (and you writers know what I mean) is much more demanding than Chariss. If I’m exhausted and not able to focus on the computer screen, and Chariss has quietly left the room, the other muse shows up with the key and manacle and says, “Oh, sorry, thought you took this writing career seriously; back to the computer desk.”

I met John Taylor (Duran Duran, Trust the Process, Juicy Couture) in the flesh Friday evening and thought I would publicly thank him here for the experience. (Although I probably won’t be able to sleep properly until mid-January for the creativity flowing through me from the three minutes spent in his real-life presence, I’m still thankful.) The gentleman won’t read this (reality check), but I believe in courtesy and all. He was gracious enough to sign one of the bookmarks I’ve had printed to promote the upcoming release of Choices Meant for Gods, so I’ll be framing and hanging that on the wall this afternoon.

For the kindness he showed to me and to each crazed fan in the enormous line of people waiting to meet him Friday night, this is just a quick thank-you. And from all the writers out there to all our muses, real or otherwise, we’re eternally grateful.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm a Soap Star!
Catch my 15 minutes before I get killed off…

A writer friend of mine weaves a suspenseful tale that walks the line between glorifying and mocking those soap dramas we love to hate. You remember Whoopie, Sally, and company in Soap Dish? Okay, you're on the right track now, but toss in a scary paranormal element.

And toss in me!

Yes, I won a contest to be in Jamieson Wolf's serial thriller "Hunted", and you can read the story so far at Be warned! Those of you who know me will laugh wildly when Sandy Duran is introduced (I think in scene eight) already in hysterics.

Jamieson is a writer of children's books, paranormal and other fiction, blogs, and fabulous e-mail messages that can have me laughing for a good long time after I've left the computer. His blog can be found at

(And for those of you who have had a sneak peek at Choices Meant for Gods, can you believe I met someone named Jamieson? And wasn’t afraid of him!?)

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Post Something Pleasant With Me
Yeah, it's kinda like that

My first experiences with blogs centered around my career in public relations. I would check the usual post-your-hate-here sites to see what people were spouting concerning my employer and weigh whether or not the topic was about to "erupt". Perhaps we'll let a few more years pass before I join the throng glorifying in the various...well...a few years, I say.

Needless to say, my view of blogsites with their less-than-erudite juggernauts of conversational pith who graced the sites with their pearls of indispensable wisdom became jaded. When my publisher at ArcheBooks said, hey, all you authors need blogs to market your books (I'm paraphrasing, by the way--Bob's more eloquent than that), I cringed. I had to join that quagmire of ranting lunatics? Just to promote the release of Choices Meant for Gods?

But I don't want to sit around bemoaning the fate of the universe. Enough people do that to support a Superman III plot. Or was that Ghostbusters II? I didn't make it through either one.

And if you've made it this far through this post, I applaud you. All this nonsense leads up to this: TodayTheDragonWins is a breath of fresh air, Kids. We're positive here. We're (gasp in unison) shiny happy people holding hands (R.E.M. reference intended). We celebrate good things and practicality. Sarcasm is fun, and I use it liberally, but too much cynicism will do stuff to your heart--and probably your soul. We're going to have silly crap here that at times will be useful (Grammar Guide) and at times will make you smile (don't have an example yet) and at times will give you glimpses of good writing (got those in storage ready to fling out at ya folks).

So kick off your shoes, sit back, strip off the tie (and, Gentlemen, unless you're John Taylor with a bass strapped over your shoulder, don't just leave your tie dangling against your lapels...he can do sexy...the rest of ya, put the tie on the tie tree in the closet), and think of something good that happened today. Post it! The world is waiting for powerful energy. Like they learned in Monsters Inc., laughter generates a lotta energy...

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Grammar Guide
Active Versus Passive Voice
Use passive voice effectively

First of all, we need to make sure we’re on the same page with active versus passive voice. If you use an active verb (to use, to jump, to move, to activate, to press, etc.) in a sentence, you’re using the active voice. If a passive verb is your predicate (to be) in a sentence, you’re using the passive voice.

I watched television all day. (active, surprisingly)
I am bored with bad television programming. (passive)

The thing composition teachers, journalists, and editors like me will harp at you about all your life is the use of active voice. We want to see you use it. Why? Action brings your writing to life. Action moves your story. Action carries characters through that indispensable arc that grows them into unforgettable people long after a reader has set your short story, essay, or novel aside.

So why did I sub-title this Grammar Guide “Use Passive Voice Effectively” if my purpose is to get you to understand the importance of using active voice? Well, too much of a good thing…

If you have a two-page description of your hero running a marathon with every sentence pounding the action down your reader’s throat, imagine how tired your reader will be when he or she gets to the end of the race. She needs a break. Using a passive sentence or two here and there breaks up the sprint. The “to be” construction slows the pace, offers a pause, and just gives the reader a moment to take a breath.

The next time you sit down to write an essay for class, a short story for a writing group, or a scene in your next best-seller, keep track of how much of the text leads the reader with active sentences. If it feels overwhelming when you read it, toss a passive sentence in there and see if that doesn’t help the pacing. The passive voice is refreshing if used effectively.

(Sandy Lender, author of Choices Meant for Gods, has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fourteen-plus years.)
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Free Holiday eBook
Writing group releases holiday memories

The Writersville Gang got together to create a book of not just Christmas memories, but holiday recipes and heartwarming moments that are sure to bring you a smile. I've even got a short memory from last Christmas (Wham! reference intended) in there. If those of you who know me can stomach yet another Duran Duran story, I highly recommend it for its amusement value. For those of you who don't know me, it might have other value as well...

Go to and sign up to have the eBook e-mailed to you. It's free and full of holiday cheer.

If you're a writer looking for writing tips, editing assistance, a place to vent, or just a community of writers among which to hone your craft, welcomes your request for membership!

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Scene for a Meeting

The Florida Writers Association's meeting I'll attend today had a homework assignment: write a suspense scene. Because I'm in full-blown marketing mode for the release of Choices Meant for Gods this March, I decided to take a scene that wasn't written for the novel and, well, write it. The following post is what a writing friend of mine, Linda Rucker, called "tense". And that's close enough to "suspense" for me.

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Charlotte Anne's Departure from Arcana
(an unwritten scene from Choices Meant for Gods)

Charlotte Anne shivered, settling her nerves and reflexes as the waves of nausea passed. She had to find a way to bring her bouts of morning sickness under control before she got back to her family’s farm. She wasn’t ready to face her father. She wasn’t ready to tell him why she’d been sent home from the school in Arcana.

“I’m not ready to tell him about you,” she told her stomach.

As if drawn to her voice, every shadow in the Rochest Forest now turned its attention on the girl. She winced as if they’d touched her.

But she was sensible. Even if dark spaces glowered at her here, angered at the way she’d defiled this place of seclusion, she knew that the morning suns shone back in the clearing where she’d left her traveling companions. Surely daylight lit the sky beyond the canopy above, and creatures like demons or trolls only came out at night. “We have nothing to fear from the forest in the day,” she whispered, stroking her stomach slowly, lovingly, as if she’d already figured out how to be a mother.

She thought she had nothing to fear from the wispy shadows that wavered like faeries’ wings across the rustling leaf litter and rocks. Nothing to fear from the breeze that brushed across her like fingers lifting her hair, like a goddess hissing a warning in her ear. And it did feel like a warning.

She froze in place, kneeling on the dirt like a condemned man awaiting...awaiting…awaiting the sound of a snap as a twig broke beneath a boot. The ring of metal as a sword left its scabbard.

She jumped to her feet. And when she spun to face whatever beast had come up on her, the heel of her slipper met the puddle of her sickness. She felt her balance falter. She would have screamed out if not for the shock in her throat. She hit the ground with a thud that jarred her teeth, and she imagined the baby within her started to cry.

“No noise,” the man hissed. He was suddenly around her, strong arms confining and bulging muscles binding. The sword blade felt both hot and cold against her neck, but it didn’t bite into the flesh as she expected. Yet his hand gripping and ripping her hair to hold back her head hurt like lightning bolts.

“Your death is supposed to look like an accident,” he said. “But I’ll make it as painless as I can.”

She gulped. “My baby…”

“Sorry, Little Girl.”

She felt him push her, felt the ground rushing toward her, felt her temple make immediate and violent contact with the rocks.

And that was all.

The man arranged Charlotte Anne and Greer’s bodies next to the mangled buggy. One of the horses was sacrificed in the farce as well. When he finished his work he climbed out of the ravine to collect his payment from Mister Kessel, and then rode his own mount back toward Candlewood to join the Dreorfahn Army marching that way.

(This scene is merely alluded to in the forthcoming novel Choices Meant for Gods, which should be released from ArcheBooks Publishing sometime in March 2007. It will be available by ordering it through your local bookstore or through, B&, etc.)
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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Grammar Guide
Present Progressive Tense

I am using the present progressive tense to prove a point: It's not wrong. It can be done.

But to liven up your writing, why not stick to verbs with punch and vigor? If you fall into the trap of the "to be" conjugation followed by a sickly little -ing word, oof, what life is left in your sentence?

Throw powerful, active verbs into your sentences and watch your writing leap off the page! Readers react to motion and sensation, so give it to them in waves. Of course, all good things should be doled out in moderation, so don't exhaust your readers, but watch out for the overuse of present progressive, also. It's usually a signal that you're in passive voice! And we all know the doom of passive voice, don't we? Ah, perhaps that will be next week's Grammar Guide topic.

(Sandy Lender, author of Choices Meant for Gods, has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fourteen-plus years.)
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

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