Writing Tip – Finding the Right Words

When do you think the word cool became so “cool”? Ever wonder how long popular expressions have been used?

In a 1930s-era movie I heard an actress use the word swell to express her agreement with another’s plan. I think it was Follow the Fleet with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

As I remember, the line was “that would be swell,”  and it shocked me to hear it’s use in such an old film.

Before the 60s swell was how ocean waves behaved, but using it to show agreement or joy had been invented by my peers, according to my superior knowledge of such things. It’s typical, isn’t it, how each generation tends to think we’ve come up with something never before known?

My more accurate education came by way of Google’s Ngram Viewer.

In the viewer you can type in any word to see where in history it shows up, and when it rose or fell in popularity.

It’s especially valuable for writers who want an accurate tool for historical research. Here, try it out.

There are advanced features that hurt my head, but may prove valuable in the future when I might wish to increase my smartness. With a little study it’s possible to search with different languages, alternate spellings, compare verbs and nouns, and so much more.

How I would have loved playing with the Ngram Viewer when I was in seventh grade and had only my grandmother’s hefty dictionary and the  phone book to satisfy my hunger for words.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

I Write for You – John 21:14-19

It’s all about you. That may sound strange, but it’s true. As we come to the end of January I’m altering my blog a bit, all because of you.

At an Oregon Christian Writers conference a few years ago I attended a workshop led by magazine editor Ginger Kolbaba. She taught on writing articles for publication, and the remarkable takeaway I got was from her comment about rejecting submissions she felt might discourage or do harm to the readers she served. She seemed adamant about her responsibility to care for them.

I hadn’t thought of my writing carrying that much responsibility.

“This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs’ (John 21:14-15 NIV).

Jesus told Peter three times to feed his sheep, and twice he reminded Peter to be his follower. I think it’s a pretty strong commission since Jesus had recently suffered and died and risen from the dead. Anyone would be motivated to listen to someone who’d been dead!

It was like he was giving his disciples his final instructions. This is important, take care of my sheep. You must follow me.

I’m looking for better ways to serve my readers, a more effective way to love my neighbor as myself as a follower of Jesus, so I’m writing my memoir (see explanation on my About page). Since it’s important I give more attention to it, I’m changing my blogging schedule to once a month.

You’re invited to sign up for my newsletter to receive updates. I’ll keep you informed of the progress of my book and other writing ventures. There’s also a form at the top of this page if the link doesn’t work.

Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. It’s my pleasure to serve you.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

How Watching TV and Going Hunting Improves my Marriage – Genesis 2:20-24

There are a couple of things I do to make my marriage better, things I wouldn’t be interested in if I weren’t married to Jerry.

First, staring at moving images on a screen has never been my favorite pastime. I prefer doing something with my hands, like writing, straightening up the house, turning pages in a book, visiting with my parents, and playing with grandchildren.

I used to tell my kids that when I am old and housebound, then I’ll catch up on those important shows I should have seen on TV. If I feel like it.

Jerry likes taking it easy on the couch after a long day at work. I don’t spend time on the couch except when I’m sick, and when he invites me to watch something with him. Most evenings now we find a documentary or historical drama on the Web and hunker down to share some chill time.

Second, I don’t care much for hunting. Early in our marriage I asked Jerry to teach me to shoot a gun. I’ve brought home game, but I don’t enjoy sneaking around in the woods being quiet for hours on end. Sometimes I want to throw rocks, sing, explore, and talk to God out loud.

What I do enjoy is living life with my husband, so last week I tagged along with him and his buddy Leo on their hunting trip. Along with more kitchen supplies than they would have taken, I packed my Bible, my laptop, and a charger to plug into the truck.

United is our choice 

“But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man . . . That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:20-24 NIV).

It was a great week. The guys pulled out before sunrise and I didn’t see them till midday. They came back to rest and eat, then headed out for another try at finding those elusive elk. When they were in camp I supported them by making some of their meals and hearing about their day.

A writer’s retreat – my special place

While they were gone I did the housekeeping (or camp keeping), read my books, explored, and wrote, relishing my time alone.

Dorcas Smucker, author and columnist for the Register-Guard, wrote about the cabin her husband built for her so she could write in a quiet place. She posted a photo of herself on her blog, a contented writer perched in her nest. Compare her photo to mine.*

The writing space my husband provided for me was quite different, and my position in the photo is harder to discern. There’s a look of deep intent on my face as I write, sitting by the heater in our tent trailer wearing nearly every stitch of clothing I brought along.

Dorcas doesn’t look like she’s having trouble staying warm, but what we are both experiencing is the much-appreciated support of our husbands, and our mutual love of writing with God.

Guess what Jerry and I did when we came home from our hunting trip? Different tasks as we unpacked, reorganized, and cleaned up. Different stories about our adventures. Different plans for the next few days. Different but together.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

*Dorcas Smucker can be found at dorcassmucker.blogspot.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com.