Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March '09 List of "Today's Word"

These words were run in my daily Today's Word on Twitter in March.

PALLIATE (PAL-ee-ate)--To make a crime seem less serious; to mitigate or alleviate.

ATRABILIOUS (a-truh-BIL-ee-us)--Gloomy; ill-tempered.

SCRUTATOR (SCREW-tay-der)--one who investigates; an examiner or observer.

TATTERDEMALION (tat-er-di-MAIL-yuhn)--(Adj.) Ragged, tattered. (Noun) Person in ragged clothes.

SEQUACIOUS (si-KWAY-shus)--(adj.) Unthinkingly following others.

VERBIGERATION (verb-ij-uh-RAY-shun)--(noun) Obsessive repetition of meaningless words or phrases.

PROPINQUITY (pro-PING-kwi-tee) (noun)--Nearness of blood (kinship); Nearness of place (proximity).

ABSTEMIOUS (ab-STE-me-us) adj.--Eating/drinking in moderation; restricted to bare necessities/sparing.

EOLEAN (e-oh-LEE-un) adj.--Borne, deposited, produced, or eroded by the wind.

LEONINE (LEE-uh-nine) adj.--Pertaining to a lion.

SCROFULOUS (SCROF-yu-lus) adj.--Having a diseased appearance; morally degenerate/corrupt.

VICISSITUDE (vis-SIS-uh-tood) noun--State of being changeable (mutability); a change in condition/fortune.

PHLEGMATIC (fleg-MAD-ic) adj.--Having a sluggish temperament; calm/unemotional. (

PALADIN (PAA-luh-din) noun--A trusted military leader; a champion of a cause.

MOLDER (MOL-der) verb--To crumble away; to deteriorate for lack of exercise.

LIMPET (LIMP-ut)--One who clings tenaciously; a mollusk clinging fast to rock; a bomb that clings to a ship hull.

SENECTITUDE (se-NECK-ti-tood) noun--Old age.

MISCIBLE (MISS-uh-ble) adj.--Capable of being mixed together.

TERPSICHOREAN (turp-sik-uh-RE-un) adj.--Pertaining to dancing. From Terpsichore, Greek muse of dancing/singing.

SUCCEDANEUM (suck-suh-DAY-ne-um) noun--A substitute.

REDIVIVUS (red-uh-VIV-us) adj.--Brought back to life; revived.

REGNANT (REG-nunt) adj.--Reigning; predominant; of common or widespread occurrence.

NOSTOMANIA (nos-tuh-MAY-nee-uh) noun--Overwhelming desire to return home or to familiar places.

EFFLORESCENCE (ef-luh-RES-unse) noun--Gradual process of unfolding or developing; highest point or culmination.

ANODYNE (AN-uh-dine) adj.--intended to assuage pain or sooth mind/feelings. Inducing oblivion/unconcern.

GAMIN (GAM-in) noun--A boy street urchin.

HARRIDAN (HAIR-uh-dun) noun--A vicious, scolding old woman.

RAPACIOUS (ruh-PAY-shus) adj.--Taking by force; excessively covetous; ravenous; existing on prey.

SKIRL (SKURL) verb--to emit a shrill tone; to play the bagpipe.

SYBARITE (SIB-uh-rite) noun--a person devoted to luxury and pleasure.

MORIBUND (MORE-uh-bund) adj.--approaching death; in a state of suspended activity or arrested growth.

Anybody wanna tackle using at least five of these babies in a sentence?


Read April '09

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Forever Treasure

"Girls, let me tell you something," my mom said at dinner at my sister Sylvia’s house. It was March 2006. I was on a quick trip to Kentucky to visit my mom, who was 89, and all four of us sisters had gathered–-Sheila and Sylvia, who live in the area, and Sandy, who drove down from Michigan. Mom looked at each of us in turn. "I need to start cleaning out some of the books that were your daddy’s. I don’t want to get sick or have something happen to me, and then I don’t have the energy to do it. So while you’re all together, I want you to look at the book cabinet in his study and take whatever books you want–both those he wrote and others he collected."

My father, J.T. Seamands, died at 87 in August of 2004. He was a preacher, an evangelist, a missionary to India with Mom for 20 years. A seminary professor of missions. An author of 13 books, translated in I don’t know how many languages. A speaker of numerous languages himself–three Indian dialects, German, Spanish–all of which he preached in. A world traveler many times over. A singer, trombonist, and tennis player (he played until he was 80).

Upon returning to Mom’s house after dinner, I headed for the bookshelf. The first book I spotted was Daddy’s Bible. Red leather bound, gold-edged pages. The Revised Standard Version. I pulled it from the shelf.

You can see a lot about a person from looking through his Bible. I started flipping through pages, noting what he had underlined. Daddy had various papers stuck inside. The first, a three-page outline of his sermon about the creation and Abraham and redemption:
1. Genesis 1 and 2. God created the universe and human kind. He said "it is good." All that God does is good.

2. Genesis 3. Adam and Eve sinned, and sin entered the world. God’s plan of redemption begins immediately. See Gen. 3:15. Two chapters are given to the fall of humankind; the rest of Scripture is the record of God’s redemptive acts in history . . .
I flipped further, into the Psalms, and pulled out a half-sheet of yellow notebook paper, faded and worn thin. Upon it, green ink in a difficult-to-read script:

Dear Darling J.T., this is goodbye. I am going up to live with Jesus. Be a good boy. Your little Sylvia is so sweet. Always stick to the Old Book and meet me. Love from Grandma.

A note written by Mom underneath: Grandma Shields wrote this after a severe heart attack just two weeks before she passed away–Nov. 14, 1943.

In 1943 World War II was raging. Mom had come home from India in June 1942 with her first baby, Sylvia, because of the danger overseas. Daddy had decided to stay and finish some missions work, thinking he could get on a boat for the U.S. before long. He and Mom would never have dreamed that the war would separate them for two and a half years, until December of 1944. During that time, Mom and baby Sylvia lived with Daddy’s Grandma Shields.

In Isaiah I found more sermon notes. One outline covered the front and back of a bank deposit slip, written in red ink, small cursive letters. Another outline was typed on half a sheet of paper–The Hands of Jesus. John 20:24-29:
1. Saving hands: Matthew 14:29-31. Then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me." Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

2. Cleansing hands: Matthew 3:11-12. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

3. Protecting hands: John 10:28. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

4. Healing hands: Mark 1:40-42. A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said, "Be clean." Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

5. Wounded hands: John 20:27. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. See my hands!

6. Knocking hands: Revelation 3:20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
In the back of the Bible Daddy wrote many other sermon outlines–just the quick note and sometimes the text. He used alliteration and rhythm frequently as a way to make his sermons easy to remember. Just a few of them:
Verbalize, vocalize, visualize, vitalize=holiness. Ephesians 5:18-20.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Without the Way there is no going.
Without the Truth there is no knowing.
Without the Life there is no growing.
Christ, who art the Way, lead us.
Christ, who art the Truth, teach us.
Christ who art the Life, continue to live in us.
No reservation, reversal, regrets=consecration, surrender. The Eternal Word for the Entire World.
Loss of faith is usually not a blow-out, but a slow leak.
That day I found a forever treasure. My father's Bible.

(Story first run on F&F in March 2006.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

An Aging Audience

I was watching the results show of American Idol last night and thinking about Twitter. I see a lot of people twittering about the show. (We West coast folks have to be careful to leave Twitter at 5 p.m., or those yakky East Coasters will ruin the show for us with their give-away comments.) Then it occurred to me--people on Twitter aren't all that young. You'll see a lot of really old adults like us Baby Boomers. And these people are watching a show that originally was targeted toward a far younger audience. According to what I could find on the Web, AI's median viewing age is now 40.3 years. When the show first started that median age was in the thirties.

How many American Idol viewers do you suppose even listen to Top Forty radio stations, where the records of the show's winners are played? I sure don't. I never miss an American Idol show (thank you, Tivo), but even when my favorite singer wins, a year later my 19-year-old daughter has to tell me, "So-and-So's CD released." (Said daughter stopped watching American Idol four years ago at age 15.) Then I'll buy the CD. Otherwise I'd miss the product created by the show.

I wonder--is the show now more popular than its end products? A TV show sustains itself on advertising income, which is based on viewership. But if those end product CDs aren't selling as well as hoped, the record company isn't going to be so excited about signing the AI winners. Those record deals were the original point of the show. Is AI now sustaining itself because the process of watching the competition and voting is more powerful and popular than the resulting CDs? (Think Taylor Hicks.)

From a marketing point of view--pretty fascinating stuff. I can think of a similar phenomenon in the book industry. The Harry Potter books were supposed to be young adult--but were read by all ages. Now the Twilight series is seeing the same thing. But even in these examples, the target audience has remained. It's just that readership has expanded beyond it. If American Idol originally targeted the 18-34 demographics, it's technically failing, in that this segment of the population is watching AI less. Yet the show has more viewers than ever.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ah, Me

Sorry, folks. Taking another sick day here. Drat it all. Can you, uh, talk amongst yourselves or something?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Same Kind of Different as Me

Do yourself a favor and read this book.

Same Kind of Different as Me is nonfiction. Typically if I'm talking about a nonfiction book here on Forensics and Faith, it's a how-to on marketing or writing fiction. Same Kind of Different as Me tells a true story. And it's a story that will make you a better person for having read it.

This Christian title has been on the NYT bestseller list for 53 weeks and is sitting at #11 right now. What's making it sell? The incredible story. And the way it's told.

Ron Hall is a white man, an upscale art dealer used to wealth. Denver Moore is a black man, raised picking cotton in virtual slavery. What brings them together? Ron's wife, Deborah (Miss Debbie), and her dreams.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a poignant, endearing story of friendship. It's a biting, difficult story of God's allowance of suffering. It's a story of marriage and forgiveness. And miracles. It's a message about homelessness.

Writer Lynn Vincent has done a masterful job in editing and re-writing the original manuscript written by the two men. The book is written in first person, both from Ron's point of view and from Denver's. These points of view--so radically different in perception and sound--come across distinctly, strongly characterizing each man. Many novelists should do half as well in writing character POVs so distinctly as Lynn has. She told me she wrote the book as closely to a novel as she could. She set scenes. She employed chapter hooks. She allowed characterization to unfold. Lynn's writing is a great example of how nonfiction "as told to" authors should write.

Are you a nonfiction writer? Study fiction techniques.

Opening paragraph (in Denver's POV): Until Miss Debbie, I'd never spoke to no white woman before. Just answered a few questions, maybe--it wadn't really speakin. And to me, even that was mighty risky since the last time I was fool enough to open my mouth to a white woman, I wound up half-dead and nearly blind.

Same Kind of Different as Me isn't always easy to read. But it's a book you'll never forget. As the back cover says, it's a "story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it." At the end of certain chapters this "Don't forget to b r e a t h e ..." Seatbelt Suspense author was so moved I simply had to put the book down ... and breathe.

Do check out the Same Kind of Different as Me Web site. Ron and Denver are speaking all over the country. There's a movie deal in the works. (You can read about that in the "FAQ" link.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Birth of Twitter

“One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters."

Have you heard the story of how Twitter got started? Interesting tale. Read it

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eureka Moment

Over the weekend I had a Eureka Moment.

I've come to the conclusion I'm not like other novelists when it comes to getting "unstuck" on a plot point. You read books by novelists about how to push through such a difficult time; you hear novelists talk about it. In fact we discussed it here a few weeks ago, as I ran numerous novelists' responses to what they do when they "draw a blank." (Part I, Part II.) Every other writer seems to be able to get over a stuck period fairly quickly. Not I. For me, it can take weeks.

What do I do? I try to write what I do know in the meantime. I usually have more than one plotline going at once, so I'll work on one while I'm kicking cabinets about the other. I get stuck on major issues. I know my premise and my twists, and but I don't know always know how to reach a certain twist. I feel like I get lost in my own maze, with so many complexities in the plot. And no matter how much I'd love to just "push through," the answer will not come.

Part of my problem is that the answer has to be perfect. Every little moving part has to fit just right--motivation, means, an avenue for surprising my readers, etc. I may think of many ideas, but none of them works in all aspects. So I complain to my husband, kick more cabinets (okay, only metaphorically, but in my mind I kick 'em hard) and beg God for help. If I'm with other novelists, I'll knock around ideas with them. Sometimes this helps with a minor point or two. Often the ideas still won't fully click into what I already have.

And--I watch my taped crime shows every day. I can blitz through a taped hour show in about 40 minutes during a lunch break. These are the true crime shows on TV--Cold Case Files, Forensic Files, The Investigators, American Justice, American Greed, etc. (As I've mentioned before here, I never watch the TV crime dramas, because they're not true to life, and they skew my research.) Almost every suspense novel I've written contains some point--small to major--that has come to me as a result of watching these true crime shows.

Still, I may watch three weeks' worth of stories before something hits me like a brick over the head, and I cry, "Eureka!" I just never know when it'll happen. And once it does I always think, "Well, duh, why in the world couldn't I think of that before?" This is how my Eureka Moment occurred over the weekend.

Sometimes the Moment has nothing to do with watching a show. It just ... comes. While I'm ... living. For Crimson Eve, it happened when I realized I was standing in the very place I needed my protagonist to land in. Eureka! For Exposure it came when I was blow-drying my hair one morning. And the ending to Exposure--way better than the ending I'd planned--came when I was driving somewhere with my husband. I wasn't even thinking about the book, then--wham! I flashed on a vision of the final scene. Eureka! For Violet Dawn--well, you know that infamous story. It came when I climbed into our dark hot tub one night. And on it goes.

Once I finally get all my answers and write the book, I naturally work to make everything read as smoothly as possible. By the time the story's rewritten and ready to print, I can read it and think, "How else could this story have been told? Of course everything had to happen just this way." And again I wonder why on earth it took so long to get it all straight in my mind, when now it's so obvious. But that's the challenge and wonder of a completed novel, isn't it. Making the story read easily (albeit tense, exciting and twisting) requires a lot of very hard work.

People ask me all the time, "Where do you get your ideas?" (This is typically after reading one or more of my novels and wondering at the vast warpness of my brain. [If "warpness" isn't a word, it should be.]) My answer? "Life." Life. It's that simple and that complicated. A novelist needs to live life to the fullest. And somewhere in those moments--whether odd, mundane, or extraordinary--a Eureka Moment bursts wide open.

My idea of Heaven is experiencing such moments every day rather than having to wait weeks for them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Policing Amazon Reviews

Recently on an author E-mail loop, one of the novelists was bemoaning a review of a newly released book. The problem wasn't that the book was given a terribly low number of stars. The problem was that the reviewer gave away the entire plot, including the final twist--in detail. A novelist's worst review nightmare.

Giving away a spoiler on Amazon is against the site's review regulations. Amazon's forbidden list:

Comments on other reviews or features visible on the page. (This information, and its position on the page, is subject to change without notice.)

Notification that the catalog has typos in it. (E-mail Amazon with the correction instead.)

Profanity, obscenities, or spiteful remarks.

Time-sensitive material (e.g., promotional tours, seminars, lectures, etc.).

Single-word reviews. Amazon wants to know why you liked or disliked the product.

Comments focusing solely on the actors, directors, authors, or artists.

No spoilers! Please don't reveal crucial plot elements.

Phone numbers, mail addresses.

More than one URL.

Availability, price, or alternative ordering/shipping information.

Solicitations for helpful votes.

If you see an inappropriate review of your or someone else's book on Amazon, there are some things you can do. The most obvious is to click the "Report this" button near the review. Unfortunately, however, clicking this button won't allow you to add a note as to why you're reporting the review. The person at Amazon who's reviewing all the "Report this" clicks may look at the review, see no bad language or personal attack and think, "Hey, what's the big deal?" So how to get Amazon to listen if a review is a complete spoiler?

1. Push the "Report this" button simply to make a record of which review you're protesting.

2. Go to the help area on Amazon and click on the yellow "Contact Us" link on the right. Sign in to your account. You can E-mail or ask for Amazon to call you. The author above did the latter, and an Amazon rep called right away. After hearing the author's problem, the rep sent a message to the Amazon folks in charge of reviews. The rep said the review would be taken care of in the next day or two.

3. You can also delete or edit a review you have posted. All your Amazon reviews appear in your Profile. To find your Profile, click "Your Amazon.com" at the top of any Amazon page and then click the "Your Profile" link in the blue navigation bar. On your Profile, you'll find a list of your reviews as well as other community content you've provided. Under the list of reviews, click "See all reviews." You'll see "Edit review" and "Delete review" options for each one. If you choose to delete you will be taken to a confirmation page. Clicking "yes" on that page will delete the review. Your review should be deleted from the website in several minutes.

The vast majority of Amazon reviews fall within the site's guidelines. Opinions are opinions. If someone wants to give a book you love (or wrote) a one-star review, so be it--as long as that person doesn't violate any of the items on the forbidden list. If someone does violate the rules, it's nice to know you can take action.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

November '08 List of "Today's Word"

In catching up to date with our Today's Word lists, I'm running this first one from November '08, which marked my first month on Twitter. On November 17 I started "Today's Word." Here is the list for the rest of that month.
ONIOMANIA. (oh-nee-oh-MAY-nee-uh)Obsessive, intense urge to shop.

ABDERIAN. (ab-DER-i-un) Inclined to laughter or excessive merriment. From Abdera, home of Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher.

LARES AND PENATES-- (LAH-reez and pen-A-teez) treasured household possessions. From names of Roman house and hearth gods.

CALLIPYGIAN-- (kal-i-PIJ-ee-un)having well-shaped buttocks. From KALLI, form of KALLOS (beauty) and PYG (rump)

ONYCHOPHAGIA--Habit of nailbiting. (On-i-KO-phu-gee-a) From ONYCHO--nail, PHAGIA--eating

PYKNIC (PIK-nic)--Short and thickset. From Greek PYKNOS--compact, solid.

QUIDNUNC (KWID-nunk)--A busybody who's not careful of the facts. From Latin "quid nunc?"--what now?

QUALTAGH (KWAL-tog)--the first person you meet after leaving your house.

TACHYPHAGIA (tak-i-PHAY-gee-a)--Rapid eating.

VENTRIPOTENT (ven-TRI-pu-tunt)--Big bellied, gluttonous. From Latin VENTER-stomach POTENT-powerful

FARCTATE--Stuffed full, filled up.

THELEMIC (thu-LE-mic)--Having the philosophy of "do whatever you will." From Greek THELEMA-will.

STEATOPYGIC (stee-at-u-PI-gic)--Very fat buttocks. From STEATO Gr. PUGE--rump.

TARANTISM (TEAR-un-tizm)--uncontrollable urge to dance, thought to come from tarantula bite. From city of Taranto in Italy.

Anybody wanna a try a sentence using a few of these babies? Come on, betcha can use more than five.
Read Jul '10 - Current
Read Jan '10 - June '10

Read Jul '09 - Dec '09
Read Dec '08 - June '09

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

February Bestseller Lists

Here are the latest Christian fiction bestsellers lists, reflecting sales in the month of February. Books that appear on one list and not the other are highlighted in blue.

CBA (Numbers in parentheses reflect placement of book on Top 50 list, which includes fiction and nonfiction)

1. (4) The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
2. (7) Fireproof, Eric Wilson & Alex Kendrick, Thomas Nelson
3. (13) This Side of Heaven, Karen Kingsbury, Center Street
4. (14) Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
5. (30) Kiss, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
6. (47) Every Now and Then, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
7. The Centurion’s Wife, Davis Bunn & Janette Oke, Bethany House
8. Shadows of Lancaster County, Mindy Clark, Harvest House
9. A Cousin’s Promise, Wanda Brunstetter, Barbour
10. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah
11. Against All Odds, Irene Hannon, Revell
12. Cry in the Night, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
13. The Outsider, Ann Gabhart, Revell
14. Sunset, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale
15. The Inheritance, Tamera Alexander, Thomas Nelson
16. Riven, Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale
17. Rook, Steven James, Revell

18. Sinner, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson
19. Where Do I Go? Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson
20. A Promise for Spring, Kim Sawyer, Bethany House


1. The Shack, William P. Young, Windblown Media
Fireproof, Eric Wilson, Thomas Nelson
This Side of Heaven, Karen Kingsbury, Center Street
Kiss, Ted Dekker/Erin Healy, Thomas Nelson
Every Now and Then, Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
Double Minds, Terri Blackstock, Zondervan
The Centurion's Wife, Janette Oke/Davis Bunn, Bethany House
8. Kidnapped, Dee Henderson, Tyndale
9. Sunset, Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale
10. Cry in the Night, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
Against All Odds, Irene Hannon, Revell
Where Do I Go?, Neta Jackson, Thomas Nelson
Lonestar Sanctuary, Colleen Coble, Thomas Nelson
Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers, Multnomah
15. Healing Waters, Nancy Rue/Stephen Arterburn , Thomas Nelson
Take One,
Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan
Promise for Spring, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Bethany House
Time to Gather, Sally John/Gary Smalley, Thomas Nelson
Shadows of Lancaster County, Mindy Starns Clark, Harvest House
Showdown, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photo Friday Winner

Lots of fun captions over the weekend for Photo Friday. Only a few caption-writers voted, but those who did voted for Tim Frankovich's caption:

As she belted out the final line, Amy knew she had totally nailed the audition to play Pippi Longstocking.

By the way, Tim is an insightful reviewer of Christian novels. His site is here. Take a look around. You'll find novels in all genres you may want to try. (His review of Dark Pursuit is here.)

Tim, send me your street address and which novel of mine you'd like. I know you receive many free as a reviewer. Perhaps you'd like one to give to a friend.

To all my blog readers: do you have a crazy picture we can use in a future Photo Friday? Send it to me at brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com. If I use your photo, you, too, will receive a free novel.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Photo Friday

All right, you creative people--give this one your best shot. Write the best caption for the photo and win a copy of any of my novels--your choice. This time I won't choose the winner--you will. Write a caption, then vote for your favorite. If you think yours is the best, so be it. But you might want to send some other folks here to vote for you, too.

Vote today and over the weekend. Winner announced Monday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tying a Nonfiction Idea To Your Novel

Today Forensics and Faith is pleased to present a guest post by nonfiction writer and novelist Mary E. DeMuth. Mary's latest novel, Daisy Chain, is being publicized by a creative marketing idea that may spur you to some ideas of your own.
One of the cool things that happened to me this year was becoming a Cec Murphey marketing scholarship recipient. That gave me access to extra (outside source) marketing and PR people. Jim Rubart, a novelist who is a professional marketer, read my latest release, Daisy Chain, way before it was released. We spent time brainstorming creative ideas to promote the book. Together we developed the idea of creating a safe place for readers to share their family secrets. The issue of family secrets directly ties into the message and plot of Daisy Chain.

It took me awhile to figure out how to create a blog/website interface that wasn’t going to take a lot of work to maintain. And then I called up my friends at
Tekeme Studios who designed my site The Writing Spa. They crafted a perfect site, matching the tone and look of Daisy Chain. The site is called My Family Secrets. Folks who want to share a secret anonymously can click on the Tell Your Secret tab.

The idea is similar to the wildly popular
Post Secrets blog with two exceptions:

1. I don’t have to gather postcards, scan them into my computer, and post them.
2. The subject matter is purely related to family secrets.

My PR friends then capitalized on the concept of Family Secrets, created a press release with that slant, and sent it here and there and everywhere. This opened the door for some great interviews where I spoke as the expert on Family Secrets, offering helpful information for those struggling with their own secrets. These interviews afforded me the opportunity to talk about the book as well. This opened the door for an interview with Christian Retailing. You can read the article

How do I measure the success of this? I monitor the site stats—I’m averaging about 100 visitors a day. Not bad for a brand new site. And I’ve had a few interviews since the book’s March first release, with more on the way. The Christian Retailing plug was unexpected. But the best measure to me is reading folks’ secrets and knowing that they’re taking their first tentative steps toward healing.

I'll end with a story. Last weekend I spoke about my own family secrets. It wasn’t an easy talk, but I peppered it with hope and practical suggestions for ways to find healing. (You can
read my testimony on my website). One woman came up to me and said, “I have a secret I’ve never told a soul.” I prayed for her.

The next day our church had a non-traditional service where we could go to different stations and worship (writing confessions, lighting candles, experiencing communion, etc.) One station was a place where several people gathered, ready to pray for folks. Another woman that had heard my talk approached me afterwards. “Mary,” she said. “Another gal who heard you yesterday asked me to pray for her. She shared a secret she’d never shared before.”

I smiled because I knew that this lady had tentatively taken her first step toward healing, by bringing it to the light. What a privilege it is to tie a nonfiction message to my fiction book! And how amazing that God uses that message to set folks free.

My question for you: What nonfiction idea can you tie to your book that not only highlights your novel in a unique way, but also builds the Kingdom of God?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Day on Twitter

I've promised that we'll be talking more here in the future about how an author can use Twitter. For a quick look at how Twitter helps authors connect, consider these "tweets" or messages I received yesterday on Twitter.

1. hey whats the name of your new book?? im excited to read it, when does it come out again?? :)) This was a DM--direct message, which means it's private between the writer and me. I answered back with info about Exposure and Always Watching, sending the gal to my Web site for more information. She wrote back that she's excited to read them both.

2. Thanks for following me. Looking forward to learning more about you. PTL for your healing. Another DM, after I chose to follow this person. She obviously visited my Web site and looked around, where she found the story of my healing from Lyme Disease. I don't know if she knew about my books before--but she certainly does now.

3. Brandilyn thanks for following me. I hope to learn the secrets to being a great writer like you! Another DM in response to my follow. I wrote back thanking him for his kind note and saying that on this blog we talk about writing and the publishing industry. Perhaps he will find the info helpful in his own writing journey. I added the link to F&F.

4. I sent out a tweet saying I'm looking for guest posters for F&F and listed what we talk about here: fiction writing, publishing industry, marketing, and social media. I immediately received six responses from interested folks on Twitter, and two from Facebook (my tweets feed to my Facebook page). I'll probably receive more responses tomorrow. With one tweet, I reached people I wouldn't have thought of and most I don't even know--who may be able to bring you a fresh look at the topics we cover here. Twitter is great for getting word out about any need.

5. @Brandilyn how have you been? I finished reading 1 of your books and about to start another one. I am hooked :) This is from a gal who, if I remember right, discovered my books through Twitter. These @Brandilyn tweets are public, so anyone following the writer of the tweet can see it. Plus all who follow me (2400+ at the moment, and climbing daily) will see my response: Thanks. Which book of mine did you read? And which are you about to read? Glad to hear you're "hooked." :]

6. @Brandilyn I converted my librarian, confirmed Kingsbury fan, into a Collins fan! She's read the mild stuff--I told her read a scary one.:-> My response: Waytago! Thanks for converting your librarian into a Brandilyn Collins fan!. :]

7. @Brandilyn I have Exposure on pre-order at CBD. Amazon gives a different date. Will it be May or June? I wrote this gal a couple of public responses, explaining the difference between the release date for Exposure (in April) and the pub date (May). CBD seems to pick up the release date while Amazon picks up the pub date. As I am answering this gal's question I am naturally talking about my books, and all my followers can see the responses.

8. I posted a tweet quoting a reader letter, in which the reader said she read Dark Pursuit in one day because she knew she couldn't sleep if she put it down for the night. This tweet came in reply from another gal: @Brandilyn LOL...I read Dark Pursuit in one sitting! :D

9. Every morning I post my Today's Word and definition, then invite folks to use it in a sentence. People on Twitter and Facebook have learned to look for Today's Word. I receive responses in both places daily. In the evening a follower asked: @Brandilyn so, you are good with words :), what does this one mean "pescatarian?" new follower from spain. oh my, hope it's a nice word. I replied in a public tweet that she probably meant "pescetarian" and gave her the definition. Someone who eat veges, fruit, nuts, some fish, but not birds or mammals. From Latin PISCIS=fish. I was able to answer this gal's question and at the same time reinforce myself as someone who deals with words for a living.

These are just some of yesterday's tweets directly related to my books and writing. In other tweets I talked about everything from American Idol to seeing some "tweeps" (Twitter friends) this weekend at the ACFW joint boards meeting in Denver, to finishing my copyedits for Last Breath (Rayne Tour series #2, releasing in September). I'm just myself. My tweets are about me and my life as a novelist. There's no hard sell. Never, ever do I tweet Buy my book! and list a link to do so. I try to be helpful and answer questions about the publishing industry/writing. The end result: people all over the world see my name and photo, read my tweets and are reminded--or learn for the first time--of my books. In the meantime I'm forging relationships.

And no, I'm not on Twitter all day. I bounce in and out throughout the day as short breaks from my other work.

P.S.: If any readers here would like to contact me with an idea for a possible guest post for Forensics and Faith, please feel free. You can write me at: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Hero's Journey--Does Gender Make a Difference? -- Part II

Following up our discussion from yesterday, here is novelist and freelance editor Meredith Efken's response to the question:
I've been playing with the ideas of male vs. female journeys. In 45 MASTER CHARACTERS there is a discussion on the difference between the two that really clarified it for me.

In the female journey the character (who can be either gender, really, since it's referring to a type of journey and not necessarily a gender experience or POV) starts out "making do" with her existence. It's an "illusion" of perfection. Then something happens that betrays that illusion and forces her to wake up.

This is one of the differences I see in the two journeys. In the typical male journey, the character often resists this awakening and doesn't reach it until later.

During the female awakening, she does lots of typical archetypal stuff like gather tools and encounters resistance to this process of awakening. She doesn't have much support for this process--in fact, the society around her is usually resistant to her efforts. In contrast, the male journey starts with a "call" and the hero is given the support of the community and gathers tools and strength along the way.

After this is what 45 MASTER CHARACTERS calls the "descent"--based on the myth of Inanna. This is a process where the character is stripped of those tools and those defenses and coping mechanisms. She has to give up strength instead of in the male journey where he gathers it. At the end of that, they have a period of calm where it looks like they've achieved some amount of success. After this is some sort of "death" followed by "support" and then "rebirth" and then a return to the normal world.

What I see is that the female journey emphasizes isolation moving toward community--the heroine starts out on her own and doesn't receive support until after the symbolic death. She is responsible for then returning to that world to tell her story and pass on what she's learned. So in that sense, the female journey tends to be more of a cycle.

The male journey is more linear and it moves from community to isolation. Eventually the hero has to "go at it alone" in order to achieve final success. I see it as a more personal, individual transformation, whereas the female journey is linked to a society. Both journeys have a theme of death and rebirth, but for the female journey, that rebirth leads her back to the community to aid in the journey of others where the male rebirth leads to "happily ever after."

Both journeys emphasize discovering the character's own hidden strength. The female journey does it through a process of stripping away her efforts to cope and survive. She discovers strength through encountering her own weakness and facing it. The male journey also has this stripping away--in effect, part of the male journey is a mini-female journey--but it happens later and isn't followed by community support. But the male journey emphasizes the hero starting out weak and then moving into his strength through trials and tribulation.

So in some ways they're very similar, and in other ways they are opposite from each other. The female journey tends to emphasize the role of society in keeping a woman from reaching her full potential and the lack of support for a woman who challenges the status quo, but then it ultimately offers the ideal of that woman returning to that society, changed and strengthened, and ready to be the agent of change in that community.

I don't know that the pressing problem would necessarily be different between a male lead or female lead. That would depend on the character and the story. The difference is in the process of personal transformation that the character goes through and what that transformation leads to in the end.

I've really been enjoying working with these ideas--now that they've finally clicked for me. I used them in LUCKY BABY--female journey--and I have an idea for a story that would have both a male and a female lead, and they each would go on their respective mythic journeys. Weaving the two together has been quite fun so far.

I like the female journey because it's a bit darker in some ways and it's different than what we're used to. Plus, I like the cyclical element to it, where personal transformation leads to being part of transforming society. But I think it could be interpreted as less of an individual victory and more of a corporate victory because the female journey's rebirth happens in context of the support of others where the male journey's rebirth happens because of the hero's own efforts. So depending on the story, it might be more satisfying to the reader to choose one journey over another.
Do you have any new thoughts after reading Meredith's reply?

Visit Meredith's editing service.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Hero's Journey--Does Gender Make a Difference?

On the heels of last Thursday's and Friday's posts on what to do if you draw a blank in the middle of writing your novel, came another discussion on the novelists' E-mail loop. This one tackles the difference--if there is one--between the male and female mythic journey. The hero's journey is best studied by reading Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. As we know, the first two steps in that journey are meeting the hero in his Normal World, followed The Call, when the hero is summoned by some sudden conflict to go on his quest. The question was posed: is there a difference for female protagonists? Is there a feminine and a masculine mythic journey, with the feminine journey being more emotional--a shattering of the home/community she has tried to build for herself?

My answer is no. Perhaps it's simply semantics. But I interpret the hero's journey loosely enough to fit a female or male protagonist. The Call to me is another term for "inciting incident"--the first major conflict that kicks off the story. It's the sudden event that upends the protagonist's Normal World and forces him or her onto a different path than he/she would have chosen. The Call creates conflict both external and internal, both emotional and physical. And spiritual as well.

But not all agree with me. Here are some shorter answers for today. Tomorrow I'm going to run a long, thoughtful response by one author to the question.

Angela Hunt: I'm a woman and I write women's fiction, but I could care less about building nests. I definitely have my female protags heed a call to adventure, and if she has birdlings, she takes care of them along the way. Males have their shattered worlds, too--Look at the character in The Fugitive. His world is shattered, he's plunged into the adventure. Look at Luke in Star Wars--his world/home is shattered, decimated, and off he goes to answer the call. I think gender makes very little difference.

Colleen Coble: Almost always in my mysteries, the woman's internal quest for belonging and nesting is primary even as she's getting to the bottom of the murder or threat. This is very high on the radar in my Rock Harbor series, which is my best-selling series. Hmm, interesting food for thought for me. . .

Patricia Hickman: I'd say this is a pretty typical journey for my protagonists. Gaylen (Painted Dresses) is losing her husband while being shackled with the weight of caring for a sister, who is undiagnosed, bi-polar disorder. She is seemingly without any of her previous ties or tools when she must set out on a road trip to keep Delia from being killed by a hit man. The things she learns about herself along the way empower her and help her to accept the fact that, while she can't change Delia, she can love her unequivocably.

The Pirate Queen, just finished WIP, is about a rich socialite named Saphora who, while a Southern Living photo shoot is taking place on her grounds, is planning to run away from home. Then her husband, plastic surgeon, big game hunter, womanizer, shows up in the middle of the day to tell her that he's been diagnosed with cancer. Then he tells her to take him to convalesce in the house where she had planned to live away from him. Suddenly, instead of the isolation she had planned on to try and figure out who she is, this summer home is full of dysfunctional relatives and grown children and grands descending on her quiet summer, all needy. The lessons she learns come from a completely new set of tools that she did not realize were there all along. I think that, for my development, the tools are dormant. There are some mentors who give her wisdom and support, but in both these books, there is the drawing on the hidden strengths and God-strengths.

It's a spiritual principal that is true of all humans--the Creator has placed these gifts or "tools" inside us, but they often hang rusting down in the cellar awaiting discovery. But I've never read about this in any material. I think it came from life.

Kristin Billerbeck: Based purely on what I enjoy reading, and I don't really have that adventure/suspense gene, I would say the female journey is nearly always emotional. Even if the outside influence is different. For example, in Star Wars, where Luke is called to go and become a Jedi when finding his dead family, I'd be more apt to read the story of the woman who stayed home and deals with the aftermath. Someone has to sweep up the embers.

I love authors who create drama out of the mundane landscape of homelife: Anne Tyler, Maeve Binchy, Jodi Piccoult.

Do you think there's a difference? Is there a female and male hero's journey?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Drawing a Blank -- Part II

Continuing from yesterday, these novelists share their secrets of how they push through their stories when they've hit a blank spot and don't know what to write next. If you missed yesterday's post, please read it first, particularly to see the original question posed by James Scott Bell.

Stephanie Whitson: Sometimes I stop writing, go back to the beginning of the book and read forward. Often that gives me a renewed vision. Sometimes I scan over where I've come from with special attention to the main character in the scene where I'm stalled. This can remind me where they've been and where they need to go. (I don't outline or do extensive character creation before starting a new book, though, so that might not help an outliner because they have probably already done that in their planning phase.) Sometimes I forget THIS scene and go ahead to another scene I'm more excited about writing (I do start with a list of scenes, just not an outline) and that will "jump-start" the process. Believe it or not, sometimes reading another novel I'm enjoying for, say, 20 minutes, refreshes my brain enough to get me motivated to go back to my own work. Sometimes I go out for chocolate. If it's really bad, I get a cup of very strong coffee and stare at the screen :-).

Lisa Tawn Bergran: If the scene is just dragging and I need to fix it, I type COME BACK AND FIX THIS and keep moving. If it's going to impact 100 other things down the line, I stop and try to resolve it then. I'm an outliner but then become a seat-of-the-pantser as my characters begin to make all sorts of crazy decisions that get me into binds...and beautiful tension that force me to think outside the box. So I don't fear those blanks--they usually further my progress as a novelist when all is said and done and FILLED IN.

James Scott Bell: These were the suggestions from Leonard Bishop:

1. Introduce a “starter” character. Give him a compelling entrance and figure out what to do with him later.
2. Use a break and begin a new scene at another place or time in the story.
3. Shift to another point of view character.
4. Insert a surprise.
5. Insert a sequence of comic relief.

Rick Acker: 1. Make espresso. 2. Drink espresso. 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 as needed. That usually does it for me. When it fails (or when I feel caffeine poisoning coming on), I sit down with my wife and brainstorm for an hour or two. We can usually come up with something that both has zip and fits into the overall plot structure.

James Scott Bell: Coffee was Balzac's method. He drank thick, black coffee from about 4 a.m. on. Around 40 cups a day. He considered it a mind altering drug. He died from caffeine poisoning at age 51. But he was doggone prolific!

Athol Dickson: I usually back up a scene or chapter, edit it, and by doing that I get more deeply into the flow. Then I can usually carry on when I’ve worked my way back up to the blank page. Also, I try to follow Hemingway’s famous advice and always stop for the night in the middle of a scene so I’ll be able to pick it up and carry on with some momentum later. Sometimes I can’t resist the temptation to finish out the scene, but when I do stop in the middle I’m always glad the next day.

Lenora Worth: I go for chocolate and coffee!

But I mostly just go back to the beginning and find what's bothering me. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and get it--I can see the problem was back in chapter three. So I can't finish chapter ten until I fix chapter three. Sometimes, I just grab something to read for a few minutes and go back and write through it.

And sometimes, I just call it a day and go shoe shopping. Even if I don't buy any shoes (which is rare for me) just getting away from the story helps me figure it out. Or a good long walk and silent prayer without ceasing will help, too.

So, BGs, have you read a new idea in these two posts that you might try next time you draw a blank? Besides the chocolate and coffee, which we all do.

Don't we?

Drawing a Blank -- Part I

Ever been in the middle of writing a novel and drawn a blank? What do you do? Recently on a novelist's E-mail loop James Scott Bell threw out a question about the issue to garner discussion. I've received permission to run his question and the answers from numerous novelists here, in order of their appearance on the loop. We'll look at some answers today and some tomorrow.

James Scott Bell: One of the first writing books I ever read was Leonard Bishop's Dare to be a Great Writer. 329 techniques. I highlighted and Sticky noted that thing all over, and like to look it over from time to time. Was doing that today. He has a section in there called Writer's "Blanks." These are places where you're writing along in a scene and all of a sudden you don't know where to go next. He has a list of things he suggests, but I'd like to hear what you do. This would seem to apply more to the NOPs among us, you seat-of-the-pantsers, but really it can happen to anybody. You're writing, and things seem to be dragging and you just don't know how to get some juice out of the scene. What do YOU do?

Linda Hall: A long time ago I read a suggestion in a Writer's Digest magazine. It was just one of those articles where they poll writers and write their comments in little gray boxes. One author - and I can't remember who - writes the first couple of chapters just to get going, and then numbers her paper from 1 to 20 and writes '20 Things That Could Happen.' The idea is to keep writing and brainstorming until all 20 spaces are filled up. I do this ALL the time - and have done this for all my books so far. When I get to a 'stuck' space I write: 20 More Things That Could Happen. And I write until all spaces are filled.

It's simple - but it always seems to work for me.

Susan Meissner: If this happens in the middle of say, chapter 10, I go back to chapter 9 and re-work it so that my characters have a different place to be than where I’ve presently got them languishing. I go backward in time, one chapter, maybe two, and pick a different path.

Terri Blackstock: I ask what the reader expects to happen, and if I can, I do the opposite. But usually my problem is with immediacy rather than plot twists, so I begin writing in first person to get deeper into the point of view, and then put it all back in third.

Patricia Hickman: This is my practice also, Terri. I journal it so the character's response is in front of me. I attach it, very often to the protag's inner conflict.

Gaylen, why are you sad?
Why are you hiding it from Delia?
Is changing Delia going to make you happy?

At the end of a novel I might have numerous files full of these notes. When I think the novel is finished, I revisit these notes to see if my instincts played through. Painted Dresses wound up with five big manila envelopes packed with notes.

Annie Jones: I ask myself: 1) is this scene really necessary or just pretty writing or an easy expectation, 2) is it being told from the right POV or in the right setting? 3) if I think both of those are right I skip ahead - write the next scene I KNOW is coming and connect the dots later (sometimes that means erasing some dots).

BUT one of the best pieces of advice about this kind of thing comes from the old writer's advice - when I get stuck I blow something up or if your plot slows down drop in a dead body... the idea of throwing in a plot device. It came from a reader talking about a well known author - he said he didn't want to read her anymore because the structure of the rest of the book couldn't support the plot twists. Actually he said, "She's not a good enough writer to pull off what she tried to do." (And she is a good writer, but obviously the twists made good writing look sloppy.)

Yvonne Lehman: After years of staring at the blank page, trying to figure out what to do, a thought occurred to me (sometimes, it takes a while). I decided it's not because "I" don't know what to do, it's because my character doesn't know what to do. So, I must dig deeper into the characterization and a way of doing that is to start writing something like, JANE HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. SHE COULD ASK HER MOM. NO, HER MOM WOULD SAY, "YOU MADE YOUR BED, NOW LIE IN IT." SHE COULD TELL HER FRIEND, BUT IT'S HER FRIEND SHE SUSPECTS IS HAVING THE AFFAIR WITH HER HUSBAND. SHE COULD TALK TO HER HUSBAND BUT SHE'D HAVE TO GET THE GUN OUT OF THE HOUSE FIRST.

I let the character decide what she would do. If she still can't decide then I write, JANE HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO--TALK, SCREAM, DIE, OR KILL. Then I go on to another character, scene, POV, and let them do their thing.

More answers tomorrow. So what do you do when you draw a blank?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Everybody Wants to Be a Star

Did you know you can make your own channel on YouTube? That way, if you're using multiple videos to market a product, viewers won't have to search all over YouTube to find them.

I had a conference call with my publisher yesterday about marketing for Always Watching, first in The Rayne Tour series, which releases April 16. (Young adult suspense, co-written with my daughter, Amberly.) We will be launching Always Watching with a national sweepstakes on April 20. I can't tell you any more than that right now. But trust me, teenage girls are gonna love the prize. As part of that sweepstakes we discussed making our own YouTube channel for The Rayne Tour series in preparation for various videos about Always Watching. I'll keep you informed as the channel is put in place.

The helpful tech site Ask Dave Taylor has info on how to set up your channel.

Have any of you made your own YouTube channel? If so, for what purpose, and how well did the channel work for your project?


Breaking news today--Facebook held a press conference, in which changes to Facebook were announced. Updates will now be more real-time instead of every ten minutes or so. Home pages will allow users to filter their feeds. And the 5000 limit for friends has been lifted. For details, see the report on TechCrunch.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Video Interview with Twitter Co-Founder

Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, recently appeared on the Charlie Rose show. Williams created Blogger and other online tools before creating Twitter. He's not the world's best interviewee. But this 22-minute video is an interesting look at the history and future of Twitter.

The most interesting part of the interview to me is toward the end--the question of how Twitter will eventually make money. Reportedly, Twitter has raised $55 million from investors, but has yet to make a dime. Twitter is known as a social community. Become involved in Twitter, and you quickly see how much users hate the old interruption marketing model being shoved into it by some "clueless" users. And the addition of ads--which is how Facebook is making money--would certainly be interruption marketing. Another possibility is to charge for usage. Or perhaps to charge for accounts that want to opt out of interruptive ads. Williams doesn't mention that last option in this video, but I'll bet it's been discussed as one viable method to monetize. Williams says he doesn't yet know what they'll do. They'll likely try certain things and see if they fly. Users have a lot of clout these days, as witnessed by the Facebook backpedaling on its new terms of use after it users raised a hue and cry. But clearly Williams and the investors see a huge potential in Twitter's ability to make money. They've already rebuffed a substantial offer to be bought by Facebook.

I continue to watch the evolution of Twitter and Facebook because I'm using both of these social media to reach out to new and existing readers of my books. And I'm finding them very effective. In time we'll talk more about that here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

February '09 List of "Today's Word"

For the past few months on Twitter I've been posting "Today's Word." These beauties come from my file of words I've collected over the years. At the beginning of each month here I'll post the previous month's words for posterity. I started back in November, so I'll post back lists mid-month until we catch up. By the way, if you come across a cool word, do email it to me. I may use it for a Today's Word tweet.

Remember these are Twitter definitions, which means they've had to keep under a certain number of characters. In my Today's Word tweets I add at the end: "(Creative sentence, anyone?)." I invite the same of you today. How about a creative sentence using one of these words, or two or three? Anyone writing a sentence with four or more gets an F&F high five.

My favorites from this list are legerdemain, Potemkin village, schadenfraude, and halcyon. The legend behind Potemkin village is interesting and lends an appreciation for the meaning of the phrase. See Wikipedia.

FULSOME (FOOL-sum)--Adj. Offensively excessive or insincere; loathsome, disgusting.

ABLUTION (ab-LOO-shun)--Noun. Cleansing of the body, usually used with a religious connotation.

CAPACIOUS (kuh-PAY-shus)--Adj. Spacious, roomy. Able to hold a large quantity.

ENNUI (on-WEE)--Noun. Feeling of weariness & dissatisfaction; languor or emptiness of spirit.

FULGENT (FOOl-junt)--Adj. Shining brilliantly.

IMPECUNIOUS (im-peh-KYU-nyus)--Adj. Penniless, usually habitually.

RIPOST (RIH-post)--Noun. A quick retort; a retaliatory maneuver or measure.

SPAVINED (SPAV-und)--Adj. Afflicted with a stiffening or enlargement of the joints.

VISCID (VIS-id)--Adj. Thick & adhesive, referring to fluid; covered with a sticky or clammy coating.

ABNEGATION (ab-nuh-GA-shun)--Noun. Renunciation or denial; self denial of something one desires.

BILDUNGSROMAN (BIL-doongks-ro-mahn)--Noun. A novel about the moral/psychological growth of the main character.

CERISE (suh-REEZ)--Noun. Deep to vivid purplish red. (French = cherry.)

EFFETE (i-FEET)--Adj. Exhausted of vitality/worn out; characterized by self-indulgence or decadence.

GRAVID (GRAV-id)--Adj. Pregnant/full of eggs; awaiting/indicating the approach of something ominous.

LASSITUDE (LASS-uh-tood)--Noun. A state of exhaustion.

SCABROUS (SCAB-rus)--Adj. Difficult to handle tactfully; rough to the touch; reprehensible or salacious

POTEMKIN VILLAGE (puh-TEM-kun VIL-ij)--Noun. Impressive facade designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.

HOMUNCULUS (ho-MUNG-kyu-lus)--Noun. A diminutive man; a pygmy.

IMMURE (i-MYUR)--Verb. To enclose within, or as if within walls.

LEGERDEMAIN (lu-jur-duh-MAN)--Noun. Sleight of hand; deception or trickery.

PRURITIS (proo-RI-tus)--Excessive itching due to nerve ending irritation or psychogenic causes.

SERRIED (SER-eed)--Adj. Pressed together; precisely coherent & concise; marred by ridges.

INTAGLIO (in-TALL-yo)--Noun. A figure/design engraved in a hard surface such as stone.

JAPERY (JAY-puh-ree)--Noun. Jesting talk, joking.

ODALISQUE (O-duh-lisk)--Noun. Female slave or concubine in a harem.

SCHADENFREUDE (SHAHD-un-froi-duh)--Noun. The act of enjoying/rejoicing over the misfortunes of others.

HALCYON (HAL-see-on)--Noun: Mythical bird who calmed seas/weather; Adj.: Calm/tranquil; golden (as in halcyon years).

OFFAL (AWE-ful)--Noun. Waste parts, esp. in butchering an animal; refuse, rubbish.

Read March '09