I’ve written about these before. Probably the last time was when I used my sheet of words/phrases to analyze my most recently published book, ACT OF SURVIVAL, Book 4 The Second Chances Series, released in 2019. The list came to me originally from the great Margie Lawson. If you haven’t taken writing classes with her, you should. Act of survival 200x300

For a month and a half now, I’ve been going over TAINTED, book 8 which has an expected release date of Fall 2020. Margie’s original list which started with approximately 45 words/phrases has grown to over 75. With each book I’ve written,  I’ve found two to three or more favorite words that pop up everywhere. That’s how I’ve grown the list. 🙂

I don’t overuse all the words on the list. Some I don’t use at all, but other people did, and Margie included them. Words I never use are: in order to, by means of, for the most part, as a matter of fact.

Other words I’ve internalized and don’t use nearly as much as I used to: usually-3 times, actually 9 and I took it to 3.

So proud to tell you I only used begun 1 time, and I left it in. Began showed up 11 times and it dropped to 2.  These words are like try and tried. The Nike add says it all. Just Do It. You don’t try to do something. Of course, Margie would probably edit out the just and say, Do It. 😊

Headed was one of those words I used everywhere.  This time the word showed up 22 times in TAINTED and shrunk to 2.

I pretty much full on pantsed TAINTED, which I’ve never done before on a full book. In 2018, I pantsed a short story for the 30th anniversary anthology of the North Texas RWA chapter. The chapter had published an anthology for the 20th and 25th years, but I didn’t participate because I don’t write short stories. For the 30th I wanted to be a part. The book is Free on Amazon and the stories all take place in Dew Drop, Texas. 🙂  

West- The Colonel and her Major

The point is TAINTED ended way shorter than I expected coming in at 60 thousand words. Normally, my books are 70 to 90 K, and I agonized over how short it was. But wait, I hadn’t used my Throw-Away Words list yet. Ironically, as I check these out and figure a better way to say what I mean, I add words. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what happens. TAINTED has grown to over 66 K, and I haven’t finished the list yet.

I used thing(s)  77 times and it went down to 5 in the edit process as I explained what thing was. It’s okay to use a word like thing in your first draft, but when you edit and rewrite, it’s important to flesh out the noun. What did thing stand for?  (I haven’t done it yet. I’ve even been afraid to see how many times it’s in the ms, but it (the process) works the same way.)

Back in 2014, I stumbled across a cheat sheet by Deana Carlyle that provides alternative verbs for such words as jumped or touched ( 1000 verbs in all). As I substituted some of her verbs for my overused ones, I make certain they do not become themselves overused.


I mentioned handled above. That’s one of Carlyle’s substitutions for touched. I don’t use it that way so much as “I can handle that….” Checking the Thesaurus on the computer is also a great way to find a different verb or noun. For grabbed, I found: get hold of, grasp, clutch, grip, clasp, grapple, clench, seized, snatched, palmed.

This part of writing is the nitty gritty part—not the fun part when your fingers dash across the keys slamming your characters in and out of difficulties, and you may or may not know how it’s all going to turn out. Except for me, I know I’ll always have a Happily Ever After.


As a reader, do you realize how authors agonize over word selection? As a writer, what are some tricks you use to spruce up your writing?  If you’d like the list, I’d be happy to share. Love to hear from you.

Because I believe with all my heart in Happily Ever Afters, I believe we will get through this pandemic. But I suspect we will be changed forever. Please, friends.  Stay in. Be safe. Be well.

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Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic PLEAD #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic PLEAD

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

“Mom—” she pleaded, unconsciously reaching out to the woman who’d cuddled her when she’d fallen off her bicycle and scraped her knee, but there was no break in the stern expression.

Jacquie Biggar

Her head whipped around, and her eyes pleaded with him to explain. Now the hard part, how much did he share with her? She deserved the truth.

A Twisted Fate (work-in-progress)

She hated the position she’d put Gary in, breathed in deep, lifted one finger at a time from the death grip on the cell. Michelle could at least plead client confidentiality.

Marsha West

“Why didn’t his latest hoochie coochie step up?” I asked. “Miss Perky and Perfect?” She shook her head, sending her auburn wavy locks flying. “That’s long over–thank God. No one liked her. She was all talk and no action.”

Vicki Batman















Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic ASK #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic ASK

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

“Hey, I know this one.” He shifted his feet. “I rescued you. The whole senior class knew you’d asked seven other guys before me.”

Vicki Batman

His plan had been to hang with Kyle and the kids, but when asked he’d jumped on Jared’s invitation like a dirty shirt. Speaking of which… He looked down and made sure his tie covered the small grease stain on his dress shirt.

Jacquie Biggar

“I specifically told them not to ask about the murders. I’m willing to bet that everyone in Mirella’s classes co-operated.”

Joanne Guidoccio

“I’ll ask the questions, Ms. Barlow.” Where’d the nice friendly law enforcement officer she’d dealt with on earlier occasions go?

Marsha West















All About Haiku Poetry

By Joanne Guidoccio

Today is National Haiku Poetry Day, a day aside to encourage everyone to try his/her hand at poetry.

Haiku poetry is a classical form of Japanese poetry that is non-rhyming and consists of three lines with the following syllable pattern:

First Line – 5 syllables
Second Line – 7 syllables
Third Lines – 5 syllables

These poems are usually inspired by nature, abstract subjects, and individual experiences or events.

Here are six examples:

Some tips to consider:

  1. Create a list of possible subjects. You could consider traditional subjects like nature and animals or a current event (Easter, birthday, COVID-19).
  2. Make a list of words that relate to the subject you have selected. Be as descriptive as possible.
  3. Words and sounds can be repeated.
  4. Feel free to experiment with punctuation and capitalization. Don’t feel bound by any rigid rules.
  5. The last line is used to make an observation about your subject. It can be an expected or unexpected relationship between the first two lines.

Note: While some contemporary poets have gone free-form and broken these rules, they have still preserved the philosophy of haiku: “the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination.” (The Academy of American Poets)

Do you write Haiku poetry? Please share in the comments below.

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic EASTER #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic EASTER

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

Tears finally streamed like a Brazos River waterfall in the spring.

Marsha West

Coupled with the Festival of Leaves in the fall, the Festival of Tulips in the spring, Festival of the Fourth every July, and the Festival of Trees in December, visitors had pumped beaucoup de cash into the community, specifically reviving this part of town.

Vicki Batman

The cherry trees lining Main Street were laden with buds, the delicate pink flowers set to open within the next couple of weeks—hopefully, in time for the wedding—and birds sang from the branches.

Jacquie Biggar

But one thing is certain. We will not be eating day-old food on Easter Sunday.

Joanne Guidoccio















Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic TEASE #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic TEASE

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

“Maybe someday in the future,” she teased.

“Shot down again? Oh well.”

“Wounded, but not killed.”

Marian Lanouette

The sun shone on her white hair, contrasting with the warm watermelon shade of her mid-calf linen skirt and matching shirt. Her enthusiasm was infectious and the idea of buying the shop teased Jill.

Marsha West

When he softly said, “Janie,” his breath teased my ear, sending butterfly-like shivers over my body.

Vicki Batman

It had started out as a joke, her sneaking in to leave cute notes, or a piece of sexy lingerie to tempt and tease. But then it graduated to something darker—compulsive.

Jacquie Biggar

“Once a teacher, always a teacher,” Laura teased. “I think she’d be more concerned about her husband’s reaction.”

Joanne Guidoccio