Are You BC/AD or CE/BCE?


I recently read that there has been a shift from using BC/AD to CE/BCE to describe a time period.

CE can be interpreted as Christian era, common era, or current era, with the BCE interpreted the same way with the word “before” in front of it. An example is “People have an idealization of English life in the in the fifth and sixth centuries C.E.”

These abbreviations aren’t “new age.” They actually go back as early as 1708, when CE stood for “common era.” Though some may believe Christian books adhere strictly to AD/BC to demarcate the birth of Christ, some, in fact, do not. Examples: Life After Death, Doubleday, 2004, and The Real Messiah, Watkins Pubishing (London) 2009, both use CE/BCE.

Some experts believe in 50 years we may be using an altogether different system, which will attach to a day 1 without any religious meaning. Until that day comes, it seems reasonable to me to continue to use AD/BC simply because it is less confusing. CE/BCE is more ambiguous and causes me to hesitate when I read it.

What about you? Do you have strong feelings about these changes? What would you think if you read CE or BCE in a book?






Day 31 – Do a Final Read Through

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

I must have been psychic when I said I was going to give my story one more read through after this workshop ended, because here it is on day 31—Do a Final Read Through.

If you have written a novel, you obviously can’t cover it in one day. You may need to set your manuscript aside for a while, then return with a fresh eye.

Review the story telling, the writing, and try to read from the reader’s viewpoint.

Results: Today is a new beginning. You have a story that is tight and clear, easy to read–a pleasure even. Now you are ready for one final read through. Slip on your tool belt of new understanding and don’t forget your spit and polish.

Take-Away Value:

Take a deep breath. Let it out, slowly. Another deep breath. Let it out. The day has finally arrived. You have weathered bad days, difficult days, busy days, all in the name of revision, and you have succeeded. Pat yourself on the back. You have earned it!

You’ve accomplished something special. You finished what you started. Do you remember the euphoria you felt when you wrote “The End?” Well, it’s time for a second dose. Even if it scares you a little.

It’s beta-reader time.


Day 30 – Fix Any Grammatical Errors

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I am looking for grammatical errors. I am to correct any faulty parallelisms, fix any comma splices, be consistent with serial commas, and fix incorrect apostrophes, contractions, and pronouns.

As soon as I read this list, I knew my weakness was comma splices. I like to leave the “and” out of my compound sentences. An example of a sentence I revised is, “She finished digging the hole, rested a moment.” That’s the way I ‘hear’ it in my head, but it needs an ‘and’ in place of the comma. I do this more frequently than I like to admit.

Results: It helps to be reminded what kind of grammar errors to look for. I am just smart enough about grammar to think I do it right the first time. Color me humbled.

Take-Away Value:

If grammar is a weak area for you, you may want to do a more in-depth proofing of your manuscript than this lesson covers. There are lots of sites online as well as many good grammar books that can help you.

Sometimes life gets in the way of what we want to do, so don’t sweat it if it takes a little longer than the advertised 31 days. I will admit now that I plan to do a quick run-through again after this workshop is finished. It hasn’t been possible for me to check every word suggested on every lesson, so I have concentrated primarily on the areas where I am weakest.

How are you holding up with these lessons? Have you been able to keep up?

Tomorrow is the last day. Be prepared to celebrate!

See you on the next page.


Day 29 – Eliminate Unnecessary Repetition and Awkward Phrasing

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I am on a safari to eliminate unnecessary repetition in my words, phrases and actions. After three weeks of revisions, there is a better-than-average chance I have some duplications.

Some common words to look for are: smiled, look, frowned, shrugged, sighed, and scowled. Favorite movement words are: walked, ran, turned, stood, set, and stopped. I am to look for instances where I use a word several times close together.

I did a search on “shrugged” and found my characters do that a lot. In fact, they shrug their shoulders a lot. What else would they shrug? Which led me to the word “shoulder,” where I made a surprising discovery. It seems my characters placed their hands on someone’s shoulder about 75 times. I managed to delete or edit these instances down to 46 even though I personally like touching shoulders to show kindness, empathy, or get someone’s attention.

Result: It was an exercise in killing my “shoulder” darlings. Expression of emotions is necessary to make a story feel real to the reader, so it was a challenge to find other ways for my characters to express their feelings. It’s a sure bet that I will be aware of shoulders in my future writing.

Take-Away Value:

Only you can determine favorite words you use repeatedly. You are likely to run across them as you edit other mundane repetitions in your prose. I often found something to revise when I was looking at something else entirely.

My repetitive word today was “shoulder.” Do you have one most people wouldn’t think to look for? How did you reduce the number of times you used it?

See you on the next page.

Day 28 – Revise Any Misused Words and Awkward Phrasing

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I am going to focus on misused words and awkward phrases.

Some commonly misused words are who/that, few/less, farther/further, which/that, and lay/lie.

Another thing I will look for is using the wrong homonym, such as there/their/they’re, it’s/its, whose/who’s, your/you’re, and loose/lose.

Misplaced or dangling modifiers make a sentence read in unintentional and sometimes comical fashion, such as eyes darting around the room, feet wandering the streets, or a cart driving under an arch filled with watermelons.

My search on these words found several instances where I misused farther/further. Farther = distance, something measurable. In two instances I used “further” when I was actually talking about a measurement. At my last critique group meeting, it was noted that I had used “who’s” in a line where I meant “whose.”

Results: I am relishing the revising I have done so far. Just 28 days ago I thought my story was in reasonably good shape. Now I know it is much closer to being polished. It’s like the difference between wearing something off the rack and a designer gown.

Take-Away Value:

We all have certain words that give us trouble. One set of words I see commonly misspelled is loose/lose. That’s the benefit of editing our work in a workshop like this—it brings awareness to our foibles so we can create a story that is cleaner and more attractive to readers.

What words do you have to keep an eye on? Do you have any tricks or tips to help you choose the right one?

See you on the next page.




Day 27 – Strengthen or Eliminate Any Weak Words

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I am getting rid of anything that weakens my prose. If I cut the word, does it make the sentence better? Is there a stronger noun or verb I could use? Am I relying on boring words when I could be more descriptive?

Janice has a long list of words you can search for, but for the purpose of this blog I am going to focus on the word “looked.”

It turns out I am in love with the words “look, looked, or looking.” It is everywhere in my story. Definitely on every page, usually multiple times. Here are some changes I made:

Saver looked worried. – changed to –  Saver’s voice wavered.

A look of concern on her face – changed to – concern on her face

schooling her face to look neutral – changed to-  keeping her face neutral

Solomon looked her over and rubbed his chin. – changed to – Solomon rubbed his chin.

He turned to look at Great. – changed to – He turned to Great.

Also, my characters are always “looking at” someone.  – Some of these I deleted, some I changed to more suitable verbs such as, stared, gazed, or studied.

Results: I had no idea. It seems my characters cannot speak without first looking. This is why I signed up for this workshop—sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees.

Take-Away Value:

Like me, you may discover you have certain “favorite” weak words. Once you are aware of them, you will catch them more consistently as you write.

Many authors recommend you set your story aside for a period of time before editing. Then you can look at it from a fresh perspective. I agree with this suggestion, but I also want to get the basics taken care of before I pick the story up again as a whole.

See you on the next page.


Day 26 – Clarify Ambiguous Pronouns

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I will be searching for any ambiguous pronouns – those pronouns that don’t clearly indicate who or what they are referring to, even though it seems clear in my head. There are many words you can search on, such as it, this, that, he, she him, her, his, etc., so this exercise may be a little time-consuming.

I did a search on the word “it.” It must be near the top of the list of words most commonly used, because my novel is littered with it.  (Used twice in the sentence just read.) However, it’s worth the time, because I found quite a few places where my pronoun was ambiguous. For example, I wrote “He pointed at it,” and in another “It was pleasant.” Both of these needed clarifying as to what “it” was.

I also found sentences where I could eliminate “it.” Example: It had a long black nozzle, the open end OF IT gilded in gold, with the back OF IT squared like a box. (Better: It has a long black nozzle, the open end gilded in gold, with the back squared like a box.)

Results: Every time I corrected an ambiguous pronoun, my sentences sharpened. I didn’t mind taking a little extra time to do this because I saw immediate improvement in my writing.

Take-Away Value:

If you find your eyes glaze over when you do a lot of “find and replace” editing, try starting at the middle or end of your story and working backwards. It gives you a fresh perspective and you won’t end up with tired eyes by the time you get to the last portion of your story.



Day 25 – Eliminate Clichés and Trim Overwriting

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I will start polishing my novel by eliminating clichés and revising purple prose.

Clichés can be any words or phrases that have become so familiar and comfortable they practically write themselves. Some examples are: “crept cautiously,” “pressed an ear against,” “a noise rang out,” yeah, right,” and “or so he thought.”

Overwriting is writing that’s trying too hard to get a simple point across. Flowery, or purple prose, is text so filled with descriptive metaphors, similes, adjectives, etc., that it screams “Look at my fancy writing.”

Results: Unlike most writers, I tend to write too little description, so my metaphors and similes are pretty spread out. Again, my writer’s group is good about catching clichés, so most of the ones that I let slip through have already been cleaned up. (Is it cliché to run your hands through your hair?)

Take-Away Value:

Keep in mind that you want to keep your writing as tight as possible. Eliminating all unnecessary words will keep the clichés and purple prose at bay. Don’t leave any paragraphs that you would skip yourself if you were the reader.

Do you find yourself going back and adding description, or do you have to go back and delete a lot of unnecessary clichés and purple prose? What works best for you? Do you catch them as you write or wait until the end?

See you on the next page.




Day 24 – Revise Any Unnecessary Passive Voice

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today is about revising any unnecessary instances of passive voice. In passive voice, the subject of the sentence GETS the action instead of DOING the action. Such as, “Bob was bitten by a zombie” vs. “The zombie bit Bob.”

Janice gives an extensive list of verbs you can search on to find these passive sentences. I found my red flag words were “by,” “were,” “have been,” and “had been.” Although I only found 5-10 instances of each of these words where I changed it to something active, that is still 5-10 times it would have been passive voice otherwise.

Results: This is a good way to become conscious of passive voice. Hopefully the next time I write something I will be more aware when I slip into non-active prose.

Take-Away Value:

Sometimes the passive voice is exactly the right thing for the sentence, so don’t feel you need to change every instance of it. Once your story becomes more active, your reader will be anxious to turn to the next page.

Passive voice is easy to slip into. Do you have trouble with this, like I sometimes do, or do you tend to stay in active voice when maybe you should slow it down?

See you on the next page.



Day 23 – Smooth Any Rough Transitions

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I will be looking at my chapter transitions to see if there are any rough or jarring areas between scenes and ideas.

Chapters should end with something left hanging or a question left unanswered. There should be a sense of anticipation about what will happen next. It should leave a sense of where the story is going.

Results: I mentioned before that I was a member of a local writing group. They have been very helpful in looking for things such as transitions. As a result, my chapters have been reworked to include good endings that lead the reader forward and into the next chapter.

However, I have decided I need to add more scenes involving a secondary character who has befriended my protagonist. She will be someone the air-traveler can discuss things with instead of just thinking about them internally. She will show her what friendship means on Earth, since there is no concept of it where my protagonist comes from.

This means I have to find the right places to insert this information so the transitions will continue to be smooth and not interrupt the story.

Take-Away Value:

Transitions are similar to flow. A reader should be able to read from one scene or chapter to another without realizing any interruption in story. Always leave the reader with a thirst to know what happens next.

Do you have problems with transitions? How do you fix them when you run across them?

See you on the next page.