Chapter 3. Unreal dream

Cathryn sat in the padded guest chair by the hospital bed, a brush sketch of black clothes and red hair and pale pink skin in the overriding washed green and taupe décor.

It just didn’t seem real. Henry had been… how would you put this? The picture of health? But that’s only appearances. And now he was an unconscious stick figure under hospital sheets. What could she say that might make it all change back? He was literally the healthiest person she knew?

No, then they might all become sicker. Continue reading

Chapter 2. Inflammable populists

“Your husband is literally starving to death,” the emergency room doctor said. She looked almost exactly like the doctor emoji on an iPhone, blonde female version, right down to the stethoscope hanging like a fox fur stole. “When was the last time he ate?”

“Last night!” Cathryn said. “And I swear, he was f—ing fine, he was f—ing healthy… argh, no, I don’t swear, but he was fine, he was healthy, and suddenly he was like this.”

“This doesn’t happen suddenly,” the doctor said, in that medical-professional-patiently-levelling-with-you way that is probably a one-credit course all of its own in med school. “This is the result of a long period of not eating properly. Or at all.” Continue reading

Chapter 1. Literally decimated

It was a bright fall Sunday with a crisp fresh taste of cool decadence in the air when the first head literally exploded. Spots of overnight frost marked the capybara-coloured leaves that lay on the pavement now misted with a bright aerosol of blood. Dogs rushed to inspect the fallen body and the stoplight-red pool that it was making. A screaming came across the parkette.

This is all very unpleasant, though. And Cathryn was nowhere near it at the time. Let’s move on. Continue reading

Definition

I’m writing another serialized work of fiction, as I have for the past two years in November. I make no promises as to how long it will take; you can’t count on the last chapter being timed to arrive on the last day of November. But I’m publishing each chapter on Patreon a day before it goes live on my blog, just to give a little plus to my paying subscribers – and an incentive for potential new subscribers.

Coming up tomorrow (and already available today on Patreon): Chapter 1 of Definition.

Red Eye Espresso

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The view from the office, complete with Bombon

Listen to the podcast version of this on Patreon

Get the Bombon.

It has condensed milk.

The Bombon at Red Eye Espresso is like a flat white, but it has condensed milk in it. Not a lot! It won’t kill you! But it makes a difference.

Oh, that’s not the only reason to come to this cute, arty little coffee place on McCaul south of OCAD. There’s also the fact that it’s cute and arty. When I say “cute” I don’t mean cloying or twee. It’s just the sort of place that fine arts students feel instantly comfortable in. (I know: I was one.) Continue reading

Watch out for the theta roles!

Never mind passive voice — it’s all about your cast list

This article was originally published in NINK, the magazine of Novelists, Inc.

Listen to the audio version of this article on Patreon.com

We have all been taught to be leery of the passive voice – sorry, make that we have all learned to be leery of the passive voice – because passive voice focuses on the recipient of the action rather than the actor. But we often get it wrong – for example, when a news story or headline is criticized for using the “passive,” odds are high that it’s actually written in the active voice; it’s just evasive in some other way.

Consider a few real-world examples of active voice misidentified as passive. When Janet Jackson had her famous “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl, one writer tut-tutted another for using the passive by writing A snap unfastened and part of the bodice tore. But although that sentence doesn’t name Justin Timberlake, it isn’t passive voice either – to be passive, the sentence would need to say a snap was unfastened. Other typical examples of misidentified passives include An accidental discharge of the firearm occurred and Boy dies as troops fire on demonstration. In spite of writers inveighing against other writers for using “the passive,” these sentences have no is or was and no past participle – to be passive, they would have to be written as The firearm was accidentally discharged and Boy is killed as troops fire on demonstration.

So how did we get so far off base in telling the passive voice from the active voice? The answer is that we’re not off base at all; we’re asking the wrong question. It’s not really the passive we should be looking out for. It’s the theta roles.  Continue reading

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