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New Words and Phrases

For My Writer and Reader Friends

Words are fun for me: scrabble; crossword puzzles; Readers’ Digest word definition section. I love attending parties where we’re challenged to find as many words as possible out of a larger word. I do hate the puzzles where you’re asked to ‘find’ a word  in a mishmash of letters strung up and down within a grid. By the time I’ve encircled a couple of words, these lines block out the other words that I’m supposed to find.

Two new terms came to my attention lately: alpha privative; peripety. (Each of the authors who introduced these to me had written stacks of books, probably as tall as they are.)

Alpha privative is a prefix attached to the front of a positive word that deprives the value of the stem word. Examples: a, un, dis. Moral to amoral; happy to unhappy; satisfied to dissatisfied. You know lots of them!

Since I deduced that since alpha in Greek meant beginning that there should be an omega that we could put on the end of a sentence that also could negate the meaning of the stem word. I couldn’t find any. But we English-speaking people are inventive, and we found a way around that. We say, for example, “I will give you a hundred dollars” then pause a few seconds and add ‘not’. That’s our omega addition. It works.

Peripety means a sudden or unexpected reversal. I don’t think we can tie in alpha privative to a positive expectation which, that when withheld, would cause peripety. I suppose some authors might even be able to do this by creating a situation that goes from good to bad. To me, the word peripety is just fun to say. I’ll not be using it.

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TRAVEL BY INK

We opened the gates on a barely-traveled road to take the lane up the hill to visit our family recluses. The brother and sister still lived in the small, rustic log cabin in which they were born. They felt little need of the outside world, except for his weekly Saturday trips to town in his Model T. Uncle Roy had purchased it new way-back-when, and it sat safely in the barn during the week. Unlike the used car that the little old lady drove only to church on Sundays in the Andy Griffith’s show, this car was in pristine condition.

They lived alone now that my great-grandmother had passed away, but I only remember her as a bed-fast figure on a single bed in the living area next to a window. My great-uncle Roy did leave the farm to serve in World War I, but I’m unsure if my Aunt Liza (Eliza Jane) ever traveled outside the county. They lived as their parents had: Uncle Roy hunted their woods for food, and planted a garden, and chopped firewood for cooking and heating; Aunt Liza cooked, dried, and canned their harvest for winter. Blankets and clothes had to be winter-worthy since the cabin was not. Chinks did fill the cracks, but that couldn’t take the place of good insulation. Aunt Liza still used great-grandmother’s pie safe for food. The pies and cookies were kept on the top shelf. A common question after supper was, “Ma, what’s on the high shelf?”

Great-grandmother’s actual pie safe refinished by a great-great granddaughter:
All original wood and tin door fronts

Conversations during these visits were lively. I was too young to offer anything, but I learned of colorful characters that had peopled our past. Even though their nearest neighbor was at least five miles away, and they had no phone, gossip made its way up their hill regularly. The radio played a central part in their lives, and so did the books and magazines beside their chairs.

One particular conversation that I recall was of Aunt Liza explaining the benefits she’d read about calcium. She pronounced the word ‘kal-kee-uhm’. Years later I heard that when a person uses a word correctly, but mispronounces it, you know that they had read it, not heard it. I remember my Aunt Liza as always upbeat and jolly. Since then, I have concluded that she did travel. Books carried her away from her tiny log cabin in the Southern Indiana Hills to the far-flung corners of the planet. But after her adventures, she could come back to the serenity and safety of her small home. Rather than make her restless, it had brought her contentment. Her clothes might still be homemade and her hands rough but for a little while, she could be a fashionable lady with soft, smooth hands. And that was enough.

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WHEN ARE YOU HAPPY?

Let’s examine when we are happy? Morning, night, or noon? Maybe it’s not a time; maybe it’s an activity that we’re engaged in.

When I was walking the dog at noon today, it occurred to me that I was happy. I was interrupted while writing a post for my blog, but C. S. Lewis said that the interruptions were as important as the writing. I’ve never been very tolerant of interruptions, but now I know what he may have meant.

Leaving my workstation (ok, my recliner), I went outside with a dog who was requesting a walk. The wind was invigorating, and the sun was trying to make up for its chill. I stopped to wonder why I felt a particular sense of pleasure. What had I been doing when I was interrupted? Writing. So, I concluded that writing must have been what was making me happy.

The piece I was working on was describing the sounds of harvest. Fall being my favorite season brought many thoughts flowing from memory to fingertips: farmers reaping in the fields; colors brightening up the wooded areas; cooler winds bringing out new fall clothes; families gathering for Thanksgivings; children anticipating Christmas.

My unfinished novel calls to me. I’m eager to join my characters in their world as together we complete the story and fulfill their destinies. I’m looking forward to seeing my last novel finally published, and the eye-catching cover beckoning readers.

The interruption I experienced today speaks volumes to me. We need ‘time out’ to make room for other ideas, new stimulation. One should not become so focused on the road ahead that we blind ourselves to new incoming thoughts and motivation.

Let’s take time to be happy.

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FACE-TO-FACE IS BETTER

I had a couple of interesting conversations with book browsers who visited my booth at the Swiss Pantry Open House in Belvedere, Tennessee. Others bought books; some took pictures of the covers so that they could order later online.

One gentleman bought Dangerous Legacy, the Second Son.

He said he bought it for his wife to read, but I think he thought that buying it would allow him more “air” time. He told me that once he’d been a singer. He still had a fine voice, and I was serenaded with a couple lines of Marty Robbins’ El Paso. He and his wife were enjoying the day. She was talking non-stop to the man at the booth on my right who sold woodwork. My visitor was fun.

A young girl confesses to me that she wants to write a book and asks me questions about how to get started. So, I had a captivated audience, talking about a subject dear to my heart! I think she has one up on me, though. She can draw cartoons. I am saddened to say that I can’t draw. I see my illustrations for my children’s books in my head, but that is where they stay until I can convey, with words, what I expect from the artist.

Our day was cut short with the threat of rain, but I sold several books and made good contacts. I consider the work of erecting the tent and making the display effort well spent. Especially since I had the good help of my husband, my son, and my daughter-in-law.

Virtual book fairs are the answer for visiting far-away places and protection from the spread of the present epidemic, but nothing can take the place of meeting people face-to-face and hearing the excitement in their voices as they purchase your books.