Words/Phrases that should be banned

The use of clichés (unless your character uses them) is considered poor writing.  I avoid clichés like the plague (cliché intended).  There are many phrases that make me cringe when I hear them; I will share my Top 10:

  1. “That went well.”  People say this whenever the opposite is true.  I don’t know why this is funny.  It’s mean to be sarcasm, but it’s a cliché of sarcasm.
  2. “Bless this mess.”  Cleanliness is next to godliness, so I’m not sure how God is supposed to bless a mess.  That makes about as much sense as saying a blessing over a McDonald’s “cheeseburger”.
  3. “In harm’s way.”  I hear this whenever people talk about the troops.  I’m tired of hearing it.  “On the battlefield”, to me, sounds better.
  4. “Purple people.”  Whenever people talk about race, they tend to mention imaginary purple (or green, blue, etc.) people.  It is ridiculous.
  5. When people say “N as in Nancy” (to cite one example).  When people feel they must spell out a word because it is easy to confuse a B with a D, they could use a little more imagination.  How about “N as in Nightingale”?
  6. “Have a blessed/blest day.”  I live in the buckle of the Bible belt, and I’ve heard this many times.  I don’t like this saying; “Have a good day” is sufficient.
  7. “I don’t read fiction.”  When someone says this, it comes across as snotty.  I want to ask, “Do you watch movies based on fiction?”  Chances are, they do.  I think it’s a little more intellectual to read fiction than it is to watch it where you don’t have to use your imagination to fill in the blanks.  Furthermore, it is insulting to say this to someone who writes fiction.
  8. “Step up to the plate.”  I hear this on reality cooking shows.
  9. “In English, please.”  People often say this when a doctor isn’t speaking to them in layman’s terms.  Just ask for the doctor to use simpler language instead.  They are speaking English, whether you understand it or not.
  10. “Jesus freaks.”  Self-explanatory.
  11. “Bad boy.”  When talking about a really big sandwich, or something really, really great.
  12. “I resemble that remark.”  It’s just not funny anymore.
  13. “How the hell are you?”  This means someone is just trying to sound different, but basically say the same thing.
  14. “Happy dance.”  There is no such thing.  Stop.  Just.  Stop.
  15. “She’s good people.”  This has always made me cringe, and not just because I sport a swastika made of semicolons (i.e. grammar nazi).
  16. “All that good stuff.”  “And everything else,” will suffice.  Avoid using words like “stuff”, “crap”, etc.
  17. “Dollar makes me holler.”  Self-explanatory.
  18. “I’m ___ years young.”  We get it.  You feel like a million bucks.  Nobody says this unless they’re trying to get attention or show off.
  19. “Bling.”  I prefer the word sparkle, but neither is better.
  20. “Mommy blogger.”  This term is often used in the pejorative sense, though I don’t have a substitute for it.

What are certain words or phrases that are so cliché, they make you cringe when you read/hear them?


Boredom wastes time

Greg Gutfeld says there’s no excuse for boredom in this era of instant gratification.  I tend to agree (however, constant boredom can be a sign of depression).

I have worked boring jobs (being a teller at a bank was one of them), but I believe the writer (and the reader) in me keeps boredom at bay.  I am always brainstorming, which makes it hard for my mind to shut down when it is time to go to sleep.

Another WordPress blogger, Matt Walsh, said something that struck me.  He said there is always work to be done.  Perhaps boredom is a sign that we have too much free time–time we allow ourselves to be caught up in our own boredom.  I’m sure boredom was the least of our ancestors’ problems (though I will take it over the hardships they had to deal with).

I’ve heard that many retirees don’t live long after retirement–they work all their lives so they won’t have to, only to find that they’re lonely and/or bored when they finally don’t.  One reason (I think) the Japanese have such a long lifespan is that their lives never cease to have purpose.  They stay busy.

Years ago, I read a story that stuck with me.  I don’t remember any of the names of the characters, or even the title.  It was about a ruler in Japan who became an evil dictator, who ordered all the old people to be put to death.  One of the young men or women secretly put their mother/father/grandmother/grandfather up far away on a mountaintop.  Meanwhile, a terrible plague came to the village below.  The dictator offered a reward to anyone who could figure out a way to drive the plague out.  This person who saved their family member in secret went up to where their old relative was; whatever solution this old relative came up with freed the village from the plague.  When the ruler found out, from then on, all the elderly were revered for their wisdom, rather than reviled for their age.

I think if our life has a purpose, we cease to be bored.  Sometimes we don’t know what our purpose is, but we can find it, or at least make our life more purposeful.

Though my daughter is still a baby and depends on my husband and me for constant care, her life has purpose as it is right now.  She has taught me to be more patient, less selfish.  Reading to her has helped me read better aloud, or at least be more comfortable reading to the local writer’s group I am a member of.  Singing to her helps me relax (not easy for this type-A personality).  It’s nice to have someone to sing to (even though I’m no Patti Page).  To borrow a line from one of the former bachelors, I’ve learned to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.  She has inspired me in so many ways she doesn’t even know.

Billy Graham says one of the greatest problems facing young people today is boredom.  I didn’t stay in college because I found many of the classes boring, and I let that keep me from getting my degree.  Sometimes, a little boredom comes with the territory.  I love to cook, but I hate the cleanup afterwards.  However, the tedium of doing the dishes is worth it.  We can’t expect our lives to be fun and exciting all the time.  That expectation that every job is supposed to be like that is why (I think) so many young people are clockwatchers and have so little enthusiasm for their jobs.

Dave Ramsey encourages us to pursue our passions.  I work with a lady who was an insurance processor for twenty-five years, to which I said, “You must have loved your job”, to which she replied, “No, I hated it.”  This is not the first time I’ve encountered someone who worked for years at a job they had no passion for, or even hated.  You do what you have to do, but always keep working towards what you want to do.

I let myself get sucked into retail for several years, but I told myself as long as it paid the bills so I could write in my off-time, it was okay.  Since marrying and starting a family, I want more now, because it isn’t just about me anymore.  It isn’t always greedy to want more, not when you’re willing to work for it.

Don’t be bored.  There is always something new to learn, a book to read, a story to tell–there is always work to be done.

Can you judge a book by its title?

Several years ago, I heard that Harlequin romance read every manuscript they received, and so I began writing short romance novels, tailoring them specifically for that market.  I won’t lie–I’ve always believed they would publish anything.  One book I read had a character named Darren, also spelled Darrin.  I couldn’t help but think of the two Darrins on “Bewitched”.

I’ve read about a hundred Harlequin romances (for research more than pleasure), and I’ve probably liked about five of them.  Most of the titles (and characters) are forgettable.  (Though much meatier, I can barely name any of the Lisa Jackson and Sandra Brown books I’ve read.)  However, there is a market for these little books, and so I’ve been working on a handful of titles–I just need to write the stories that go with them!

I ended up writing two novels, “Regina Fair”, a light, fluffy romance for the Harlequin American romance line, and “A Splash of Blue”, a darker novel for one of the other lines.  I came up with “Regina Fair” for the title (it was originally “Regina’s Rainbow”) when I read that Audrey Hepburn’s “Sabrina” was originally “Sabrina Fair”; someone thought that sounded too highbrow (fearing they would think “Vanity Fair”), and so it was shortened.

My protagonist, Regina Morrow, is a refined girl who works a blue-collar job (she is a grocery clerk).  I wanted to show (and not tell) that a girl could have class without money and/or a white-collar job.  Plus, a character like that is more relatable than most of the contestants that compete on “The Bachelor”.

“A Splash of Blue” is about a young woman who runs away from her mother’s smothering love to become a mermaid for Soda Springs water park (based on Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida; I’ve been there, and it is truly a relic from the 1950’s).  This title is reminiscent of the 1965 movie, “A Patch of Blue”.

I do think the greatest books have the most memorable titles (“Gone with the Wind”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”), and a catchy title (like a book cover that pops) is important, as are character names.  Did you know Pansy was Scarlett O’Hara’s original name?  Or that Mickey was born Mortimer Mouse?  I can’t imagine it either.

Musings on log cabin stories, stay-at-home momhood, and the art of regifting


They say (and by they, I mean certain political pundits) that anymore, a candidate needs a “log cabin story” to relate to the voters.  I don’t believe one has to have been born in poverty get elected.  Let’s face it, even if they sprung from humble beginnings, most of them don’t relate to the common people anymore by the time they reach the higher echelons of office (they are not public servants–our taxpayer dollars serve them).

I love it when new words (I like shelfie) or phrases are coined, though I have to say, my favorite thus far is still “Bush derangement syndrome”.

I do loathe the term “mommy blogger,” though.  Stay-at-home moms are already maligned by modern society, but at the same time, I don’t believe having and raising five children is not a qualification to be elected President.  One of my favorite things that Greg Gutfeld has every said is that women are equal to men, but different.  Women don’t have to be like men to be equal to them.

I would actually prefer my husband to expect dinner every night upon coming home from work, just so I felt I was earning my keep.  When I don’t bring home a paycheck, it is hard for me to feel I am contributing to the family, even though I take care of all my daughter’s needs when he is away, and sit up later to take care of her when he is trying to sleep, so he can go in to work rested.

I feel like if he expected more, I’d be more motivated to try new recipes, but he’s happy with a peanut butter sandwich and beer.  I admit, I hate cleaning, so I try to keep everything as clean as possible all the time because that’s just less big cleaning I’ll have to do later.  I try to make as little mess as possible when I cook.  I am an anti-hoarder because I don’t want to have to worry about sorting through a bunch of junk later.  I try not to own too much stuff (no more bath towels or plates unless one breaks or we can’t use it anymore) because the more stuff you have, the more there is to clean.

I am a huge regifter, and have never bought a Christmas present for my husband’s family’s Dirty Santa parties (there’s a shrimp deveiner that’s been regifted for the past twenty-five years).  I used to collect scented candles and have far more than I could ever use, so I’ve been regifting those for the past few years.

Rather than spend money on such a thing, buy a gift for a child on the Salvation Army Angel tree.  So much money is wasted on gift-giving when people buy whatever they want for themselves throughout the year.  I’ve always found that food gifts and any handmade items are the most appreciated.  Even a phone call or a handwritten letter can be a gift.