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

Writing

Celebrating Progress

Denise M. Colby's Orange County Chapter of RWA Badge with Pins and Rose

It might be slow, but I’m making progress.

A great part of being involved in writing organizations are the opportunities to get your material in front of published authors, agents and publishers through contests. The feedback they provide are valuable and instructional.

My local chapter of RWA – the OCCRWA – hosts the Orange Rose Contest every year for unpublished authors. You send in the first 35 pages and a synopsis of your story.

The first time I entered was in 2015. I took all the feedback and made several changes and decided to enter again in 2016 to see if those changes made a difference.

First Place Certificate from Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers
I Won!

What a shock to find out I won 1st place in the inspirational category!

I received this really pretty certificate and got to stand in front of my peers who all cheered me on.

Then a month later I found out that those who placed first receive an engraved award at our Annual Birthday Bash.

Here’s a picture of me Denise M. Colby receiving her awardgiddy with excitement after being presented with my award (yes I had to give a little speech).

OCCRWA Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers' award

And then I found out,

my name was listed in the Romance Writers Report Magazine

Denise M. Colby's name in print for winning awardSeeing my name in print made it even more real.

I still feel as if I’m on cloud nine.

And, it gave me the confidence boost I needed to continue moving forward with my goal of publishing.

And what was the next step?  Turning Pro!

For an RWA member to turn Pro, you need to submit your complete manuscript to show proof of your work. In January of this year, I uploaded my document and held my breath. I received word they accepted it and voila! My status was updated to Pro.

What I didn’t know at the time – and I was jumping up and down when I found out – I would receive a rose from my Orange County Chapter for going Pro.

Denise M. Colby receiving her Rose for turning PRO with RWA
Receiving my rose

What’s the big deal about the rose?

Every month at our meetings, authors receive roses for selling books, novellas, and other stories. Each color rose means something – Red=Novel, Pink=Novella Length, Purple=Self-Published, Yellow=Non-Fiction, White=Articles, Peach=Turning Pro.

I’ve been watching everyone receive roses for a few years and couldn’t wait to receive one. I even purchased a vase a while back to hold my roses in. So when I found out I would be receiving one for going Pro, it was difficult to contain my excitement (just ask my husband!).

Not only that, I received a PRO pin to wear on my badge with pride AND I got my name printed in the RWA National Magazine on the PRO page.

It feels like all of this happened quickly, but I’ve been working up to this point for a while. It’s nice to be able to see progress in my work. I’ve included pics – I have to document it all – it helps encourage me when I have those days I don’t like my writing.

Now with these goals met – I have my eyes set on new ones for the rest of the year; Find a critique partner, edit Book #1 and finish writing Book #2.

As a writer, there is never an “I’ve arrived” moment in our career.

It’s not about the end result. It’s all about the journey!

Thank you for letting me share mine with you.

Blessings, Denise