Top Ten Words or Phrases That Make You Cringe

Top Ten Words or Phrases That Make You Cringe

So I’ve been looking at some topics for blogs, and I find all kinds of great ideas.  One of the more amusing ones is posting about personal stuff or pet peeves, so your readers get to know you better. This idea can work, but it can also be a disaster. I’ve seen writers post all manner of personal stuff that, quite frankly, I don’t want to know. Worse, there’s no compelling reason to care. Does Glenda’s reader really need to know that she collects her own toenail clippings? Do my readers care that I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two weeks ago, but still remember the lyrics to every Frank Zappa song I learned when I was in high school?

I’m going to guess no. But pet peeves, well, that could be interesting…especially if they’re somehow relevant for writers, or just writing in general for civilians.

And then it hit me: with the continual (d)evolution of our language, there are some highly annoying phrases out there right now that make my skin crawl…that make me feel like that guy above. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Looking at articles online that address this topic – Most Annoying Words and Phrases of 2016, etc. – I find that even the perennial offenders like whatever or like don’t bother me as much as some of the others.

Thus we have with my current, latest, on-the-fly Top Ten Words or Phrases That Make You Cringe.

  1. Adulting – I thought it was bad when the word parenting became not only accepted, but common. Never did figure out what was wrong with just saying raising children (maybe it was George Carlin: “Don’t plant ’em too deep!”), but okay…whatever! And now we have devolved to adulting? What’s next? Childing? This one is so weird that my phone autocorrected it to faulting when I typed it. Makes sense to me.
  2. Having said that/That being said – This is the new “um.” A totally unnecessary placeholder phrase. What surprises me is how many professional speakers, who are excellent at what they do, stick this into a talk…multiple times! I just came from an event with people who are way better speakers than me, and yet, I caught a few of them doing this…a lot.
  3. Epic – Okay, you know this one is bad. Worse than awesome. Let’s face it, awesome has, to some degree, become synonymous with cool. But if you say everything is epic, well, guess what? Nothing will be epic.
  4. At the end of the day – Having said that, I’m now going to be businesslike and make sure you know that, when it comes right down to it, at the end of the day…ah, just forget it.
  5. “No words” – I believe this gets written more than said, mainly on social media. It expresses horror, shock, sadness, etc., I guess. Problem is, you just wrote two words to tell us you have no words. See the problem?
  6. Cray cray – Okay, I’ll admit, I don’t think I’ve ever heard this from a person I actually know. This is more an obnoxious TV personality thing. But it’s beyond annoying. This is getting into punishable offense material. Just say crazy, okay? Better yet, don’t. Maybe that person has a genuine mental health issue.
  7. Porn – What? Porn, you say? Well, I’m talking about people calling everything that’s not porn, porn. Food porn. Nature porn. I don’t know that it necessarily devalues or legitimates actual porn, but it’s stupid, and kind of weird. Besides, do you really want to have to explain to your three-year-old when they ask, “Mommy, what’s word porn?”
  8. Vajayjay – Urban Dictionary has a great definition for this: The most annoying word known to woman. Now, I don’t know who started the trend – and again, I’ve never heard a person I know use it – but it’s childish. I get that some people think the word vagina sounds, well, overwhelmingly medicinal, but come on. There has to be a better solution.

Okay, there’s my list. I know, I only went as far as eight, but honestly…don’t you feel bad enough just from those?

You’re welcome.

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Hong Kong Phooey and The Casual Racism of the 70s

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Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

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Author Newsletters

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Writers, Don’t Forget to Write It Down!

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Leaving the Litfic Category Behind?

Leaving the Litfic Category Behind?

Today’s blog is NOT an advertisement for products or services I offer. However, I do want to extend an invitation to join my email newsletter list to get content that’s (mostly) not available elsewhere.

One thing about the author life that never fails to entertain is the endless ways experts suggest that we “enroll” our readers. It changes constantly and, well, that can be a little frustrating.

Here’s the bottom line for me: I started out writing for myself. Over a period of about 25 years, I wrote three standalone novels. I can state without hesitation that I put everything I had into those books—creating the greatest works of art I could, while still telling those stories in the best, most engaging way I could.

The results—Brothers’ HandJana, and Miles of Files—have gotten mostly great reviews, and a couple not so great ones. I’m still extremely proud of the books. Reviewers have used adjectives like radiant, engaging, riveting, masterful, evocative, and captivating when writing about my novels. I’m happy with that.

But now that I’m putting out my fourth novel, I’d love to find a larger group of enthusiastic readers. And because I want to deliver a book that many more readers will want, I’m asking for your help.

Not too many people comment on these blog posts, but even fewer send personal responses to my email newsletter. I’d love to hear from more of you, and that means I’m open to suggestions.

The new book, Whizzers, promises to be a much different project than my other three novels. I still don’t know what to call it. Lately I’ve been shying away from the term literary fiction—for a couple reasons.

First, litfic just isn’t popular like it once was. Contemporary, or even general, fiction might be a better way to categorize forthcoming works.

Secondly, when it comes to this new project, I’m still not sure what subcategories on Amazon I’ll use. Honestly, I’m going to be looking for feedback from readers and fellow authors.

The book has a time travel aspect to it, but I wouldn’t call it science fiction. What the heck is it, you ask? That’s the dilemma: does it get subcategorized as Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction? As Action & Adventure Literary Fiction > Literature & Fiction > Fiction > Time Travel? Probably, but you see where I’m going here. It’s not easy to categorize.

So this week I’m posting a little excerpt that I sent out in a newsletter. It’s not here for the purpose of asking for help with sub-categorization; simply looking to get feedback, see if people find it intriguing, and so on. The sub-categorization issue will wait for another day.

As I said, I’d love to hear from more of you, especially with any comments on the excerpt below, good or bad. I’m not work-shopping the novel through a group, so this is the place for feedback from readers and potential readers. And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Off I go into the night, looking back occasionally at what turns out to be a kind of small cottage. I wonder where I am, where I should be going. If I get lost, I have no idea how to get back to where I am now. But there is not a soul in sight to ask—only the moonlight to guide me. There was no moonlight before, only that foreboding blackness, and I wonder what’s been orchestrated here. Now that I think about it, it seems to me that the moonlight did not appear until I lit a candle, or at least until I left the cottage. I call it a cottage, not knowing what the place really was.

I look back and notice the cottage disappearing in fog. I’m still frightened. What if I can’t find my way back? I decide to return for at least a moment, get my bearings better, if possible. It feels uncomfortable but I do it anyway.

The fog begins to dissipate as I draw nearer to the cottage. I blink, shaking my head, almost unsurprised. The cottage is gone.

Which way can I possibly go now? Lost and alone at night, in a strange place, in a strange time, with strange clothes? And yet the feeling of desolation is not as overwhelming as it could be. I feel almost encouraged to know I truly must find my own way now. Nowhere to hide. No one to ask for guidance.

balance

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #7: The Elusive Search for Balance

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From The Archives: Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

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You Can’t Do It All—And You Don’t Have To!

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Insanity: Writing the Same Thing Over and Over?

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Dreams, Memories, And Growing Up One Day At A Time

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Taking A Break

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Does An ARC Have to Include A Cover Illustration?

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The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

I wrote most of Miles of Files between 2007 and 2015. I felt my first novel had been an artistic success, but I wasn’t so sure about the second one. Now, I’d moved on to this third novel without having found a publisher for either of the first two. And it was totally different from either. I was in the wilderness.

Fortunately, I knew a little about what I wanted to do. In Miles of Files, I wanted to paint with a broader palette than ever before. I wanted tiers of characters like Charles Dickens created in Dombey and Son: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The tertiary characters are mainly commentators who pass on information about primary and secondary characters.

I wanted each character to be unique and different enough from the others that the reader could easily identify them. So I went through the Myers-Briggs personality types and assigned them accordingly. I had an INFJ, an ENTP…you name it, I had it.

Miles of Files started with the germ of an idea. Paul Panepinto works as a low-level employee in an insurance corporation. He finds out that his boss, the second-in-command, is stealing from the company retirement plan. Paul fears that he’ll lose his job if the owner doesn’t believe him, but he can’t just stick his head in the sand either. Talk about a highly uncomfortable dilemma.

The boss, Graham Woodcock, is a Brit transplant who shows blatant contempt for Americans right from the first chapter. Now, I’ve been a diehard Anglophile for years, so you may wonder why I would create such a contemptible, and contemptuous, British character as Graham.

I think the roots of the Graham character go back to my twelve-year-old self discovering the magic of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Some of the ensemble – notably, Graham Chapman and John Cleese – had the pompous fool character down pat. The love-hate relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. came through for me even louder and clearer in another Cleese showcase, the 1980s film A Fish Called Wanda.

In that film, Cleese plays an amiable attorney (barrister, in British parlance) enamored with all things America…in particular, with Jamie Lee Curtis. I consider Kevin Kline, who plays Jamie’s fake brother, Otto, a kind of American prototype of Graham Woodcock (but not nearly as smart as Graham). Otto is especially contemptuous of Brits, whom he sees as smug and condescending.

Graham arrived fully formed, and I’ll be honest: I actually had a hard time reining him in and keeping him from taking over the book. By turns ruthless, greedy, misogynistic, and pompous, I also think of Graham as reflective, a fan of classic American jazz, and very, very funny. I might have to make him the main character in another book somewhere down the line.

But as I ready my fourth novel, Whizzers, I feel a bit like I’m leaving the world of Miles of Files behind. This next book is more serious, deeper, more spiritual. And, like any artist, I also feel like my current project will be my best novel yet. I know I can’t be objective about that, either – who can? – but for now, Miles of Files is still the best complete project I’ve ever done. It’s gotten more sales and reviews than the others, too, and I think there’s a reason for that.

You can find Miles of Files on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online outlets in addition to my website. Hope you enjoy it.

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Recovery 202? Long-Term Sobriety Is Possible

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It’s A Small World After All

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Books: Great Holiday Gifts, or The Greatest Holiday Gifts?

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launch team

Turning a Street Team Into a Launch Team

If you're reading this blog post in April or May of 2019, you probably already know that my fourth novel, Whizzers, will come out later this year. I'm working on launch ideas of all sorts, and the launch itself is likely going to be late July. For the uninitiated,...
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And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

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How Authors Can Navigate Twitter

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Five Ways You Can Help With a Local Book Launch Event

Five Ways You Can Help With a Local Book Launch Event

This week I want to write a bit more about my fourth novel, Whizzers. It’s my current Work-In-Progress, and I plan to have it finished this year in order to launch it in 2019.

One of the few luxuries of being an independent author is that I haven’t set a firm publication date yet – because I don’t have to! I’ve still got to finish the story. Then I’ll deal with editing, proofreading, cover design, and all the other elements of getting the book together.

In the meantime, I’d love to get more feedback on building a launch team. I’m pleased to say that several people have already stepped up and joined the team. Some are fellow novelists, others are readers. I’ve even got an offer for some refreshments for the local launch event here in Tampa.

This will be my biggest launch yet. That means I need to do every type of outreach possible. I’m looking for feedback, because I want to provide an experience beyond the book itself.

So, if you live in the Tampa Bay area, I could do a free talk at your book club. I could do one at your meetup group. Do you have friends who’d like to be part of a launch party? Here are five possible ways to contribute. 

  • Help find a venue for the event
  • Host the event at your venue
  • Be an event sponsor
  • Provide refreshments or entertainment
  • Donate prizes or supplies

For those outside the Tampa Bay area, I’d love your ideas just as much. What can I do to incentivize your generously helping me get the word out about Whizzers? What sort of unique content would appeal to you? Maybe you host a podcast, and would like me to make a guest appearance. Maybe you’ve got a novel to promote too. I’m open to suggestions.

Of course, I can offer a free personalized signed copy, a copy of the e-book, etc. – but what else?

Speaking of podcasts, I’ll be a guest on the The Jamie Irvine Podcast this Wednesday, August 8th, talking about the power of storytelling! To subscribe, rate, or review the podcast, visit Jamie here.

How Freelance Writers Can Ditch The Content Mills – And Get Paid What They’re Worth

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Lyrics: Why I Write Them, and Why I’ve Put Them Into My Novels

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We use up too much artistry in our dreams—and therefore often are impoverished during the day. - Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow   Boy, ole Nietzsche really had it right, didn’t he? Last night I went through mental movies that ranged from being...
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​In 1994, I wrote a novel called Brothers’ Hand, in which the titular character mentions that someday working class people might very well use billionaire “Duncan Scrump’s” name as a curse word one day. Of course, I never imagined such a person could become our...