Books

Writing Words That Encourage, Enrich, and Engage

Denise M. Colby writes about The Purpose of Words in her blog post Writing Words that Encourage, Enrich, and Engage on denisemcolby.com

A part of this post was first posted on the Sliceoforange.net blog on April 12, 2018 (The Purpose of Words)

I love quotes, phrases, and how words are used to communicate. It’s fitting that at dictionary.com, the verb ‘word’ is defined as: to choose and use particular words in order to say or write something. 

Yes, as writers that is what we do. We have a lot to say and we choose our words for a reason.

I’m always amazed at how people put together their words the way they do. Many times, in my head I find I articulate well. But when I write the words down, they don’t always sound the same way they did in my head. Does anyone else struggle with this? I’m thinking I’m not the only one. Or so I hope. But, I digress.

This post is about words. 

Definitions. Synonyms. Words by themselves. Words strung together. I love words. Go figure that Words of Affirmation is my love language (if you don’t know what that means — check out the book Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Interesting insight into why and how people show love differently) and that I got my BA in Communications.

Words are a curious thing. How you say them, spell them, and use them can change what they mean. We have rules for these words and we take classes our entire school career to learn what those rules are. And yet, there’s still a variety of ways people string words together.

What makes us each use words differently? 

I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon. Diary’s and journals have been around since the beginning of time. But most of those private musings never saw the light of day. However, with the internet explosion and the plethora of blogs out there, not to mention the ease of self-publishing, anyone can express themselves however they want and post it for others to read. 

Some writers use big words that I have to mull over and think about before I can continue on, while others write in a way young kids can follow. Some use clever prose, others are straightforward. Some write very long sentences, while others write less. All. The. Time. I find I enjoy reading it all. 

There are several types of books out there that play with words. 

One book series titled, Short & Sweet, is a compilation of one page poems and stories all written in one syllable words. Each book has had a different theme.

Denise M. Colby's Poem Titled, "When God Calls", is on page 77 In this book, The Short and Sweet of It

I submitted a piece titled “When God Calls” to the third compilation, titled The Short & Sweet of It. When the Right Word is a Short Word. 

The focus of this compilation were things that matter deeply to the authors and my piece is based on the Bible verse Matthew 11:28-30 —“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I wrote a short poem from my heart and I couldn’t be more excited as it’s my first published work. 

The book launched in April 2018, and my piece is on page 77. It’s being sold on Amazonand Barnes and Noble .

Besides one syllable word books, there are more specialized books on words. If you are anything like me, you own more than one dictionary and thesaurus. At used book stores I like to look for unique and different types of dictionaries to use for references. Recently I learned about a new word. You may have heard it before, but it’s new to me. It’s called ‘Etymology’. At first I thought it was about body parts or an animal species. It’s not! 

Etymology: the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. 

Isn’t that awesome?!

Apparently, this has been a thing for quite some time. I looked on Amazon and there are numerous books on the subject (some of which are now on my wish list). As I researched further on the internet, I found a website dedicated to the topic, https://www.etymonline.com/

For those of us who write historical, this might give us an entire new source of understanding how or why a character would use a word. My favorite part in the few words I tried out, is the listing of slang words. 

For instance, I looked up the word farm. Besides an overview on the definition it lists two slang phrases:

Fetch the farm: prisoner slang for “get sent to the infirmary” 

Buy the farm: world war II slang for “die in battle”.

Now, if I was writing a World War II piece or a Civil War piece, I might use one of these. But alas, I’m not. But, the next time I’m looking for a something more on a word, I’ll use this as a resource and see where it leads. 

All in all, words are wonderful. 

Especially when we use them to communicate to others. Whether it’s in a private letter, an article, a novel or a blog post, words are put together to read and enjoy.

Just like you read and enjoyed this post, right?

Blessings,

Denise

A blog update from Denise M. Colby dated September 17, 2018
General, Writing Journey

An Update From Me

A blog update from Denise M. Colby dated September 17, 2018It’s been a while since I’ve written for my own blog.

Life is always busy in my household with three teenage boys and all their activities so I’ve been focusing on more simpler posts such as the First Line Fridays and on writing magazine articles and a monthly blog over at A Slice of Orange.

I jumped into the First Line Fridays scene at the beginning of the year and enjoyed sharing and commenting on all sorts of books—some old favorites and some new here on my blog. You can check them all out here or the latest one here.

I was looking forward to the summer

and hopefully a slower schedule with more time to write, but that didn’t happen.  I started the summer with a wonderful conference.  SoCal Christian Writers Conference was held June 21-23 at Biola University and it was wonderful to learn and be filled with encouragement and writing ideas.  I came back with a long list of things I wanted to do to pursue this writing career.  And then the week I got back I got a call about my mom not doing well and left to go spend an unknown amount of time with her and my sisters.

When my mother passed away in early July, I found it challenging to sit still and write. 

So even though I met my obligations to others (magazine articles and blog post), I took a break mentally from my own expectations. It was a good move for me to regroup and give myself some grace. And my list from the conference has sat there waiting patiently for me to get back to it.

But even during all that time off, ideas kept brewing in my mind.

It seems a writers mind never stops working….oh the joys of being a writer.

So now, the kids are back in school. We had a beautiful Celebration of Life for my mom over labor day weekend and I’ve gotten a handle on the laundry and the cleaning (for now). So I’m working on my routine again.

So here’s an update:

I’m editing my novel. Still. The main draft is done, but learning about all the layers that go into a novel – plot, grammar, correct point of view, balance between dialogue, narration, and action. That takes time. For me…since it’s in between being a wife, mom and daughter as well as any outside paid jobs…it’s taken a lot of time.

But I feel like it’s been worth the time. All the online classes and monthly workshops, I believe it has been good to not rush through the editing process. I have learned much and am excited to put all that learning into practice. I’m excited to be moving forward again.

I appreciate all the support everyone has given me. 

I’ve enjoyed the friendships I have made along this journey. And a journey it is! I look forward to connecting more with you, my dear friends and hopefully have more for you in the near future.

Blessings,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 6.15.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from a novella in a collection titled:

With This Ring – A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone AwryFirst Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, With This Ring Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

The second novella in the collection is

Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

This cow would cross the river even if it killed her.

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

Writing Journey

Why the M?

Why do I use an M in my name?

When I decided to create a webpage and wanted the domain for just my first and last name, but there was another author with the same name.  Even though it had been a while since she published, the genre was too close, and I didn’t want there to be any confusion.  I also found out that particular domain was taken by a health fitness person.

I knew I wanted to use Denise Colby but I needed to differentiate myself

So, I had a decision to make

My middle name actually starts with a C, but I didn’t like two C’s next to each other in my author name, so I decided to go with M – which is the first letter in my maiden name.

When someone types in Denise M. Colby; my website, blog posts and social media appears in the search, which means I’ve done something right in being consistent with using that name.  When I typed in Denise Colby, I did not appear in anything, also because of the above statement.

I wondered, then, how difficult would it be to have something appear in a search using only Denise Colby.  To do so, would mean I would need to use Denise Colby in the alt text of photos, as well as in a post (did you know the internet indexes even the headers you choose? I’m covering that in a separate post).

So to test this theory, I decided to write a post using some specific SEO techniques.

File Names for Images: 

I uploaded the same photo with different file names.  It turns out that the file name cannot change when you upload it and that name becomes public record – even if you change the title later.  (I’m still trying to figure out what the title line is for, then).

Testing out Alt Text:

I also typed out the alt text differently with each photo.  The first one has Denise M. Colby and second one has Denise Colby in the Alt Text.

Caption & Description:

I also filled out the Caption and the Description on each photo as I’ve read that those sections can be indexed as well.  I added more text to the captions within this post, but it doesn’t back feed into the media files.  Not sure yet if that makes a difference or not.

Using Different Size Subheads With My Content:

Recently I read using the built-in subheads (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) gets indexed into metadata as well, so I wanted to test that theory in this post.  That is why I have the words Denise Colby in the first subhead above. And why I’m writing this line next:

I decided to use Denise M. Colby instead of Denise Colby

Denise M. Colby Bible Verse Psalm 136 with Steadfast in it word of year 2018
File Name is Psalm136 with Denise M. Colby in the Alt Text

Denise Colby Bible Verse Psalm 136 with Steadfast in it word of year 2018
File Name is IMG_3829-copy with Denise Colby in the Alt Text

Each of these pictures are linked to the media file on my website.  The media file pulls from the original file name used when uploading the picture.  So if you were to save either of these, they would have the original file name that I uploaded it with.

I’m going to resist creating an image header for this post, although I believe if I added one using the file names and alt text with the same data would help with what I’m trying to test.  I might add another post similar to this one later on just to learn more.

So, thanks for following my ramblings as I test out my own theory and knowledge related to SEO techniques and website posts.  And now you know why I use the M. in my name.

Blessings,

Denise M. Colby, also known as Denise Colby

 

 

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 6.8.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from a novella in a collection titled:

With This Ring – A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry  First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, With This Ring Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

The first novella in the collection:

The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

Freestone County, Texas   

Spring 1892

Absorbed in the book she held, Marietta Hawkins nibbled on her lower lip and burrowed more deeply into the hay piled near the loft window.

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 6.1.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from another Love Finds You… book.  I’m continuing my recent theme! 

Love Finds You in Groom, Texas

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, Love Finds You in Groom, Texas by Janice Hannaby Janice Hanna

 

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

Amarillo, Texas, 1914

“How does it feel being the last single fella in town?”

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 5.25.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from another Love Finds You… book.  I’m continuing my recent theme! 

Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana by Tricia Goyer & Ocieanna Fleissby Tricia Goyer & Ocieanna Fleiss

 

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

“Feels like I’m sleeping in a covered wagon with all this shaking.” Nineteen-year-old Julia Cavanaugh forced her eyes open.

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays – 5.11.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pulling again from treasures read a while ago, today’s first line comes from another Love Finds You… book.  I thought I would do them all in a row!

Love Finds You in Hope, Kansas by Pamela Griffin

Book Cover Love Finds You in Hope, Kansas by Pamela Griffin - First Line Fridays Denise M. Colby Blog Post

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

Hope, Kansas

Midsummer 1889

“Don’t just stand there with your mouth hangin’ open like a fish. Do you want a new ma or don’t you?” Andy directed the tense question to their little sister, Maggie, who hovered outside the stable door in clear indecision about whether to join them.

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays – 5.4.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pulling again from treasures read a while ago, today’s first line comes from another Love Finds You… book.

Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, Canada by Susan Page Davis

Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island Canada by Susan Page Davis First Line Friday Post by Denise M. Colby

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

June 27, 1860

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

The back door to the kitchen burst open. Molly Orland nearly dropped the wooden spoon she held.

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays – 4.27.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  I’ve been off the grid a bit over the past month with a musical I was assistant directing, spring break college hunting for my son and several family birthdays.  Now I’m back and I have a new batch of First Line’s to share.  I recently went through my plethora of books I stored under my bed (it was like finding treasure!) and found several I plan to share over the next few weeks.

So here’s the book I selected for todays First Line:

Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio by Lisa Harris

Love finds you in revenge, ohio by Lisa Harris Christian romance fiction

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

Revenge, Ohio, 1884

The only thing worse than being a spinster is being a twice-jilted spinster.

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise