Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cool Word Contest

Deb making new friends
I ran across these cool word facts recently and thought you writerly types would appreciate them.

+ "Facetious" and "abstemious" are the only words that contain all the vowels in the correct order.

+ "Almost" is the longest commonly used word in teh English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

+ "Teh" means "cool" in Thai. It's pronounced "tay." (Now you can tell everyone you meant to do it when you make typos like the one above!)

+ "Fortnight" is a contraction of "fourteen nights," which has been generally replaced by "two weeks" in modern English.(Of course all you Shakespeare groupies already knew this!)

+ If you were a Lone Ranger and Tonto fan, you'll like this one: "Kemo sabe," meaning "all knowing one," is actually a mispronunciation by Native Americans of the Spanish phrase, "quien lo sabe," meaning "one who knows."

+ "Rhythms" is the longest English word without the normal vowels a, e, i, o, or u. 

+ "Ough" can be pronounced in eight different ways. Here's a sentence containing them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully." (Note from Deb: These days we spell it "hiccuping," but this is the acceptable old-world spelling.)

Okay, now for you word geeks, a few for you to figure out (don't cheat by looking them up!):

1. What's the commonly used word that's spelled the same in English, French, German, Swedish, Portuguese, and Dutch? (Hint: Travelers use this word frequently.)

2. What's considered the toughest tongue twister in the English language? (Hint: It has something to do with ill livestock.)

3. Name the only English word that ends in the letters "mt." (Hint: It's something you probably did last night.)

4. What is the only spelled-out numeral whose number of letters in the word equals the number? (If you're observant, I've already given you a really BIG hint!)

5. What's the longest word that can be typed with only the left hand? (Hint: It's the out-of-date plural form of a well known profession.)

E-mail me your answers at and I'll send everyone who gets all five correct an autographed copy of my new book, Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate.   

Happy wordsmithing! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Unrequited Love

Deb's Book Signing
In my books, I tell a lot of stories. Some funny. Some poignant. All true - well, at least they're based on truth - and many are about people I know.

In fact, it's a standing joke among my friends that you'd better watch what you say around Deb because it very well might end up in a book. 

So fair's fair. It's time to tell a hilariously embarrassing story on me. One that seems especially fitting a few days before Valentine's Day.

I had a book signing yesterday at a local bookstore. We (the manager and some awesomely loyal readers and faithful friends in my community) were celebrating the release of Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate. 

The morning looked promising enough. When I arrived twenty minutes early for the well advertised event, three people were already waiting at my book table for my signature in the copies they'd already purchased before I got there. Super duper.

I happily chatted and signed copies of F3 with the first two as Rick, a dear man from my writers group whom I had known for several years, stood back in gentlemanly fashion to let the others go first. He really is a truly nice guy, this Rick - an excellent writer on his own merit and always supportive of my books, even my current series for women.

When it was his turn, Rick plopped two books in front of me, stating cheerily, "One of these is for Joy, and the other is for my niece."

"Great," I said, flipping the cover open. I didn't know Rick's wife, but I was sure if she was married to this perpetually smiling man, she must have a dandy sense of humor.

"For Joy," I penned inside the flap, "I love your husband!"

I was intending to write more but at that moment, Rick, who was peering at the inscription as I scribbled, hesitantly broke in. "Um, Deb ... do you know Joy's husband?" he asked with a strange little quirky grin on his face.

My pen froze in mid-air. "What do you mean?" I asked, a premonitory seed of doom sprouting somewhere deep in my innards. "Isn't that you?" 

Suddenly it hit me. The conversation Rick and I had had several months before about the mutual friend who was my professional hand therapy colleague and his next door neighbor. Joy. 

Uh, oh.

We hooted with laughter at the same time as we realized my mistake.

I just hope Joy does the same when she sees the written confession of her husband's love affair with a crazy writer who oughta stick with just signing her name. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

You, too, can do Extraordinary

Aspiring writers often ask me tips on how to get published. They do this, well meaning enough, while showing me their "completed" manuscript, which they finished writing just yesterday and think is ready to submit to publishers and editors and agents and anyone else in the free world who'll appreciate their exquisite work of art.

My answer: Let me tell you a story.

Last year I got a new kitchen floor. The sample tile was so beautiful, shining like a slice of sunshine there in the store, I couldn't resist. I was was tired of the dull, lifeless, uninspiring tile that had besodded my kitchen for decades. (I don't think besodded is a word, but it should be.) I was ready to wow unsuspecting house guests and awaken every morning to a cheerful, gleaming floor.

But a strange thing happened once we got the tile home and installed on the kitchen floor. Within a few weeks, it began to lose its luster, become boring, quite ordinary. Annoyingly ordinary.

Every time I mopped and air dried my new floor - like I always had my old floor - it was dulled even more by dried water spots. I asked around and tried many expensive gadgets, products, and techniques that I'd been told would restore the glow, but nothing worked. I was extremely disappointed that I'd put so much thought, effort, and work into my new floor - which I knew had wonderful potential, for I had witnessed it firsthand - but no one would be able to see it.

And then one day, out of sheer desperation (guests were coming soon but the floor needed mopping), I grabbed two old terrycloth towels from my linen closet and donning one on each foot, ice skated around the newly mopped kitchen to speed up the drying process.

Oh. My. Goodness. The tiles gleamed like a newly polished silver tea service. The shine was nearly blinding. Gone was the ordinary. Present was the extraordinary. Big wow! The gorgeous floor I knew was there all along became a show-stopper and immediately caught the attention of every single person who walked in my house from then on.

Manuscripts are a lot like a kitchen floor. Ordinary is fine. Ordinary is functional. Ordinary is what everyone has. It is sufficient enough for you to say, "I've written a book." But it will likely remain unpublished and end up in your bottom right desk drawer, appreciated by no one and gathering dust.

But with a bit more work - okay, a LOT more work - that manuscript can be copy edited, content edited, and rewritten until it's polished and gleaming and extraordinary. Extra-ordinary; above-ordinary. The wow factor will suddenly appear. Your piece will shine brightly enough to attract the attention it deserves and will very likely eventually GET PUBLISHED. 

So take my advice. Have your manuscript professionally edited by a specialist in your genre. Someone who knows how to ice skate in terrycloth booties.