Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A Word is a Word is a Word. IWSG, Origins, LoanWords, Dribble

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:   Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

This month's question is: If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?

I had an artist make my covers - which you can see to the right and in my header. I "met" Adrienne Saldivar through blogging so many years ago that I don't know how long it's been. The point is, I liked her style and knew that if I ever actually self-published a book I was going to commission her. I was not disappointed. She did the covers for all three of my books. If I ever publish anything again, I hope I can commission her again.

Origins: a recurring post in which I delve into the history of a word or phrase.

Today's word is: WORD

Since I chose WORD to be my word of the year, it's only appropriate that I give a little history about this word.

The word, WORD, (say it enough times it will begin to sound weird) comes to us directly and unchanged from Old English. It was the word chosen by some ancient scribe when translating the first sentence of the Bible from Latin. "In the beginning was the word." But the Latin word the scribe was trying to translate was verbum, which literally means "verb" (an action) and is itself a translation of the Greek logos which more closely translates to thought. So, from thought, to action, to something that names something that already exists, the first sentence of the Bible shows how difficult it can be find the right word when translating.

Old English isn't the language of Chaucer or Shakespeare, it's older - between 1200 and1300 years old! It's the language of Beowulf and England's Alfred the Great who ruled a mere 13 years, from 886 to 899, yet who revolutionized and encourage education and that it be taught in English (Old as it was) instead of Latin.
If you watched the series, The Last Kingdom, with the Saxon born Danish hunk, "Destiny is all" Utred, 
that's the era I'm talking about.

Old English is so strange sounding and looking it may as well be a foreign language. Check out this short video of the first lines of Beowulf being read in Old English. 
 
From this language about 4500 words are in use today and we, as writers should be happy and proud to know that the word, WORD is one of them.

Because it's February, I thought I'd also include the word LOVE which in Old English was spelled lufu and pronounced LUH-VUH, like our modern word, but with an extra syllable.

LoanWord: A word adopted from a foreign language with little or no modification

Today's loanwords are not really loanwords as I've decided to include a few Old English words that have come down to us almost unchanged or with only a small spelling difference. They include but are not limited to:

Gift, Friend, Foot, Hand, Finger, Candle, Weird (did you notice I used weird earlier?) Sun, Apple, Leaf, Winter, Cat, (not to leave dogs out, but the word is spelled docga and pronounced dodge-ah), Horse, Wolf, Elf, Wife, and my favorite (besides WORD) Snot! which is unchanged and still means the exact same thing today as it did over a thousand years ago.


If you'd like to learn more about Old English words check out The Wordhord: Daily Life in Old English by Hana Videnn. There is also the Old English Wordhord app you can get for your phone which provides you with one Old English word a day, giving the pronunciation (with a recording of it) and it's meaning.


A Dribble or, a story in 50 words or less
The Stuff of Nightmares
A word by any other name is still a word. Or is it? She mulled the thought over and over in her brain. It kept her awake at night. She thought about it so much, it gave her nightmares. A word by any other name is still a word.... HELP!



Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for what else? WORDS!

If you published a book, did you make your own covers? Do you have a favorite Old English word?

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Nice: The True Story, IWSG, Origins, LoanWords

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:   Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

This month's question is: Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finished my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year is Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? Why?

I think this year's word for me is going to be WORD. Why? Because without words where would I be as a writer? In fact, where would any of us be, writers or not?
***
Here's to 2023 with a "nice" quote from the fabulous Austrian poet, 
"An now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been."
Rilke 1878
Because his mother mourned the loss of a baby girl, 
she dressed and treated Rilke as a girl through his early life.

***
As I mentioned last month, I'm going in a new/old direction, sharing my love of words which includes their origins, histories and stories. So, without further ado, I introduce you to...

Origins: a recurring post in which I delve into the history of a word or phrase.

Today's word is: NICE

I've chosen "nice" because it's the word that set me on the journey of loving words.

I'm a bad speller, though not nearly as bad as I was when I was a kid. Spell check has helped me, A LOT, whereas my family was no help at all. Whenever I asked how to spell a word their reply was always, "Look it up in the dictionary!" They were merciless. 

Of course my reply was always, "How can I look it up and when I don't know how to spell it?" They remained unmoved. "Sound it out!" Do you know how hard that is? Do you know how long it was before I finely conceded to the fact the distroy is spelled destroy?

I digress... 

One day, when I was about 8 or so, I was trying to find the spelling of some word or other and got side tracked when I stumbled upon the word "nice".  I bet every single one of you believes you know the meaning of nice. HA! Nice has a long history of meaning something else completely.

Nice comes to us from Middle English, which was spoken between the 12th and 15th centuries. Back then it meant, "foolish, ignorant, frivolous, senseless." (oh dear!) Before Middle English it came from Old French, nice, spoken between the 9th and 13th centuries, and it meant, "careless clumsy, weak, poor, needy, simple, stupid, silly, foolish." (oh my!) The Old French word comes to us from the Latin nescius, meaning ignorant or not knowing. So, when you called someone nice, you were saying they were ignorant, unschooled, or silly. However, by Shakespeare's time nice was beginning to take on the meanings we give it today.

I suspect (but don't know for sure, it's just my "theory") that nice may have started out as a slang word meaning its opposite, rather like the way we use the word "bad" to mean good. "That's a bad ass car!" Who knows, maybe one day, bad will mean good and people will have forgotten that once bad actually meant "of poor quality," "not to be hoped for or desired," "unpleasant, unwelcomed." 

Thus, my little girl mind figured that if I wanted to insult someone very politely, I could say something like, "You're so nice," and the person would never know I was calling them a stupid fool.

 And that is the story of how I fell in love with words.

Quotes

"Treat others as you wish to be treated. Don't just be nice, but be kind to other people. That can be so rewarding." Mary Lambert

"It's nice to just embrace the natural beauty within you." Victoria Justice

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." Mark Twain

For those of you read this post, I bet you'll never read or hear the word "nice" and experience it in quite the same way again. You're welcome, have a nice day. 

***
LoanWorda word adopted from a foreign language with little or no modification.




I thought each month I'd add a short list of foreign words that we English speakers commonly use as if they were our own. Here are a few from French: bric-a-brac, detour, prison, dance, prairie, soup and salad. And aren't we glad for soup and salad!




Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for four more Dribble acceptances from Vine Leaves Press. 
And here is the link to my latest article in Destination Magazine! 

What are you thankful for? Have a word for the year? Do you have a favorite foreign word that we English speakers commonly use? 

(I may be a day or two late getting around to visiting people as I have to work today and tomorrow!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

IWSG, A New Direction, Being Thankful



Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex CavanaughYOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question is posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story. The question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey. In fact, you can write about anything at all.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

This month's question is: It's holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

If you have a lot of family or friends, the holidays can be a difficult time for any creative person who requires time alone to do their thing. If you don't have the warm distraction of people, well then, the holidays can be a lovely time to get some "work" done, or give your muse a rest, or brainstorm ideas. 

***
A New Direction

So, I've been getting a tiny bit of writing done playing around with Dribbles (50 word stories, two of which, so far, have been accepted by Vine Leaves Press) and this has led to the idea of changing my blog a bit. I really haven't put much effort into it for several years, so it's in need of a facelift. I've sort of been slithering along lazily not really saying anything or expressing myself. Playing with Dribbles has caused me, once again, to realize how very much I love words. I think I love words more than I love writing them into sentences. You see every word we use has it's own story. And this fascinates me. So, starting in January 2023, I will highlight a word (or two?) and tell it's story. That's only 12 (or a few more?) words a year if I stick to posting once a month. 

I've also cleaned out and organized my collection of three-ring binders and spiral notebooks, which was quite an undertaking as some of the contents go back to the 1970s. One of the things I've discovered (aside from the goldmine of ideas and... words) is that over the course of my life, I've collected hundreds and hundred (maybe thousands and thousands) of inspirational quotes. They are written down all over the place and I am slowing transferring them into one notebook. (She laughs manically, aware of the delightful insanity of this endeavor.) My intention is to include a quote or two with each post.

If the post isn't too long, because my intention is to keep them short, maybe I'll write a Dribble or a thoughtful sentence or a poem using the word whose story I've told. Or maybe I'll use a quote that has the word in it.

That's my plan, anyway. We'll see how well I stick to it. :D

***
Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for the dribbles of inspirations that have been coming to me. 


Cypress on the River

Along the banks
the towering cypress
                          stretch their branches
                                               toward the sky
                          sink their roots
                                          into
                                               the 
                                                    river bed.
Their small, slender needles
are starting to turn from
                         green to
                                   yellow to
                                               rust to
                                                      brown.
The needles will carpet
                            the paths 
                            and float
                            in mats on the water.
Their fragrance will fill the air.
Fall is quietly approaching,
almost as if trying to
not be seen.
It is playing hide and seek,
a fairy flitting in and out among
the leaves.
                          Teasing. 
(Winter isn't really coming.)

But I have eyes
and will not be fooled.
          



What are you thankful for? Do the holidays hinder or help in your creative endeavors? Are you ready for 2023?

MERRY CHRISTMASHAPPY HOLIDAYS, 
AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
SEE YOU IN JANUARY.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

IWSG, I'm Back-I Hope, and other news about what I've been doing the last eight months, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

This month's question is:  November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

Yes, I have participated and written full 50,000 word books. And there they sit in their files waiting to be further worked on. Only one of them is really worthy of my time and perhaps next year it will come out of the closet, perhaps not...

***

So, am I back? Did you miss me? My answer to both questions is, I hope so.

At least now I can explain the reason for my absence. My sister, Erva Denham, was in need of a new aortic heart valve. It was up to me to find the right doctors, to make our home ready for her to come up to Texas from the Virgin Islands, and to take her to all her appointments. We didn't know if she was going to require open chest surgery or if they would be able to replace the valve by going up the main arteries in her legs. 

Within two weeks of her arrival in February she saw the first heart doctor and by May she had a new valve implanted. She was eligible for the latter. It was an incredible experience to get her to the hospital one morning and have her discharged the next day in the afternoon. From May until this month she has been in a state of recovery as her heart adjusts to this foreign object in her heart. It is made out of metal and has bovine tissue for the valve cusps. Just last week she was finally released to return home to the islands and she will be leaving next week on the 9th. 

It's been quite a journey and experience. The doctors and the three hospitals involved have been fabulous and we couldn't be happier with the results.

***
In other news, two friends - one of them a high school classmate - have died, which makes me ever more acutely aware of my own mortality and that I'm definitely on the downward side of this journey called life. I'm not particularly anxious or fearful about it, that's just the way it is. But it does make me think about what I want to do with whatever time I have left. 

On that note, I was asked again to contribute an article in the prestigious travel magazine, Destination. My third article for them will be published in January and is called, The Little Pre-Fab that Could.

I have also been writing some dribbles - 50 words short stories. I'm finding them a nice way to ease back into writing.

Here is the first one I wrote.

Hangry

I didn't realize playing with the Conjuring Wheel would cause such torrential rainfalls. Ok, Grammy had warned me, but she was gone now, so it was her fault. That made me angry, which made me hungry.

I wandered into the empty, silent kitchen. Undoing the wheel would have to wait.

I have submitted, so far, two of these dribbles to Vine Leaves Press because...why not? (And as of this morning have learned that my first submission has been accepted!)

***
I've also written my first poem in a gazillion years. It was written in the aftermath of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian and the death of my classmate, Ronnie Lockhart. Ronnie was well loved on St. Thomas, with a wealth of knowledge about the history of the islands and a great sense of humor. He was also very active in Rotary and several other organizations. He will be greatly missed.

Ronnie, as the Candy Man, during Carnival a year or so ago.
On Hurricanes and Death
Flooding emotions -
A torrential rain of tears
                           of fears
                           of years long gone.
Nature does not care about
    what gets in her path
                         her wrath
                         her bath of sorrow.
She is innocent and indifferent.
We are pulled, pushed along
whether we would go or not.
We can, like being caught in an ocean wave,
    fight against being thrown about
    and come away battered
                              bruised
                              dead.
Or...we can relax into the tumbling
emerging from the ocean like Venus
                                                  Radiant
                                                    Glowing
                                                       Alive

Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for the excellent doctors, nurses, hospital and office staff who took such good care of my sister and who were always upbeat and positive about her prognosis. 

What are you thankful for? Have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month? Have you ever written a dribble or a drabble, which is a 100 word story?

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

IWSG, Mom, News

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery!

This month's question is: Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn't around anymore? Anyone you miss?

                                                   2/2/22 
                                    Is this an auspicious day or what?

My sister, Erva, Mom and me,
about the time I wrote my "essay."

Me and Mom.
I was about five
.
Wow. This couldn't be a better question for me right now. Yes, the one person who encouraged, supported, and influenced me and who isn't around anymore, is my mother. Not only did she teach me to read, she homeschooled me for several years and during that time (without knowing the name for the "problem") figured out I wasn't learning things the way my sister did. I'm dyslexic. Because of her patience she figured out that I am an audio/tactile learner. I have never done well with numbers and math. I can fairly easily learn the steps for doing problems but can flip numbers in the middle of the solution and thus get a wrong answer. And, even though I have never been a great speller, my mother saw/recognized that I loved to read (even though I read slowly) and that I could comprehend things beyond my years. (I read Call of the Wild when I was around ten or eleven.) She was also the one who saw that I might have a talent for writing when, at the age of eight, I wrote a three page essay about our family. It is from that essay that my sister, Erva, and I were forever referred to as the grils.

As an adult Mom was once astute and aware enough to notice that I seemed to be "stuck." She gave me the book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. On the flyleaf she wrote, "For Bish, Follow the way, Love Mom." In most everything I have had published, there is a secret three word phrase I use to honor her. Can you guess what that phrase might be?

She lived a long and wonderful 93 years and though she's been gone from this plane of existence for ten years, I still miss her and long to hear her voice, her laughter, and long to feel her hugs. She didn't get to see any of my published books and stories, but she's there, lurking in the pages, peeking out from behind the words and I know she is smiling.
***
And now some news. You know how things change, right? I'm not at liberty just yet to fully explain, but it has to do with health (not my own, I'm fine) and I'm going to be pre-occupied. Because of that, I'm not sure when I'll be posting again. Who knows I might show up next month, but then again it might be several months before you read my glittering words again.

And so, on that note, I bid you adieu for now. 

Take care, everyone. Be safe. Be thankful.

Today I'm thankful for this day. What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

IWSG, News and Onward into the fog...er New Year

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:    Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

This month's question is: What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

The only thing I regret about my "writing career" (if you can call it that) is that I didn't start submitting and looking for an agent when I was younger. Though I've written on and off most of my life, I didn't make the effort to get "mainstream published" until I was much older - I won't say how old because now I'm REALLY old and I don't seem to have the drive to spend hours every day at the computer. 

That said, I'm happy and content with what I've done so far. Maybe some other things will get published, maybe not. Either way, it's okay.

***
On that note I'm pleased to share my article in the travel magazine, Destination: US Virgin Islands. This article is about how my grandparents came to own Trunk Bay, considered to be one of the most beautiful and most photographed beaches in the world, and how my grandmother ran a guest house there for years, without electricity.

So, Happy New Year, to me!!

This is my second article with this travel magazine. You can read my first article from 2020, HERE. The company did not print a magazine for 2021 so it was a pleasant surprise to be invited to write an article for the 2022 issue.








Trunk Bay was my first home. This is 
place where I learned to swim, body serf, and fish off the rocks with a handline.

This is probably explains why you can take the girl out of the islands, but you can't take the islands out of the girl. 





***
Tomorrow is Three Kings Day, a holiday celebrated with much gusto in Puerto Rico. 
My mother was one of those children who put straw and water under her bed for the camels 
only to wake in the morning to find presents.
Happy Three Kings Day to all!

***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful to be here and to have made another revolution around the sun.
There is SO much to thankful for, despite what the news says or what people complain about.

Now it's onward into 2022. Who knows what it will bring? More of the same? 
Something worse? Something better? 
Whatever comes, 
may we all be a calm during the hard times and joyful during the easy times. 

I pass on this Tibetan Buddhist prayer to one and all.
May you be at peace.
May your heart remain open.
May you awaken to the light of your own true nature.
May you be healed.
May you be a source of healing for all sentient beings.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

IWSG, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:   PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray!

This month's question is:  In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

I don't know if I'd say it stresses me out, but editing, revising, rewriting are what I least like to do. What delights me the most is an idea that develops into a story or novel. I love the process of research, taking notes, working on my form of a very rough outline and then writing. That other part though? Not so much.

***
Still haven't done any writing (sigh) but I'm just not going to sweat it. I'm enjoying the clouds.

It's hard to believe it's December. For me, this year seems to have gone by much faster than other years. Was it only six months ago I got vaccinated? Yesterday I got the booster. Because I have Crohn's, an autoimmune disease, I got a full dose (didn't know that was going to happen) instead of a half dose. Today my arm is extremely sore, so sore I can hardly move it. But, it's a small price to pay for a little extra protection. 

I leave you today with a selection of unusual Christmas trees. No matter what your religious or non-religious beliefs are, may this month and the New Year bring you peace and joy. May each of us do one something that helps another human being, or that leaves this planet, our only home, a little bit better than it was yesterday. If you're interested here is a list of all the holidays and celebrations that happen in the month of December. So, saying Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings is perfectly appropriate.






I'm fondest of the button tree... Which one do you like?

***

Being Thankful
I would say, right now, that I'm particularly thankful for the much needed positive news from my gut doctor.

What are you thankful for? What delights or stresses you about writing? Planning anything special for Christmas or the Holidays in general?