Tag Archives: Jax Daniels

Blue Words

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Until I joined Toastmasters, I’d never heard the term blue word.  But I was painfully aware of their existence and the battle we all have about when and how to use them. Especially as a writer.

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A blue word is a swear word. Don’t worry, I intend on keeping the G rating of my blog.

Blue words are unique in that they are tied to us emotionally. We don’t typically utter them thoughtfully, but reactively. If you see something dreadful (like a car accident unfolding before your eyes), you probably utter a blue word. If you’re angry, you might react using a blue word. And, more interestingly, of all the words that leave your mouth, you may regret or even feel ashamed for uttering a blue word. How many times as children have we been told, “Never say that word”?

If you’ve ever lived in a foreign country, then you know some of the first words you’ll learn are the blue ones. Why? Firstly, they’re heard a lot, and, more importantly, they have no emotional power over you. For example, if I say merde, a Frenchman might be offended, but no American would be. It doesn’t mean anything to us. It lacks the emotional tie and, therefore, is just a word. Similarly, anyone who knows English as their second language has no hesitation using our blue words, though you and I may blush at their language. Again, these words mean nothing to them.

As a writer they pose a problem for me. I put my characters in some terrible situations. If I were in their place I’d react with the words, “Oh my God.” I do it all the time. But as a reader, these are boring words. They just don’t spark the same emotion reading them as they do when said. Yes, I can convey anger using the “f” word or someone’s sassiness with other swear words, but they don’t read well, so I use them sparingly, only when I need to make a specific point.

Which leaves me with a problem. Either I dismiss them (not very realistic!), or — and this is key—I make up new ones. I tend to the latter, which allows me to do more than just show emotion; I can give you some insight into the character or the situation.

For example, let’s say John meets Steve and thinks ill of him. I could write:

John thought, “He’s an a**hole.”

True, we all know how John feels about Steve, but reading this you might think John’s a bit crude, maybe a bit of an a**hole himself. But, I could write:

Screen shot 2015-03-10 at 8.19.50 PMJohn thought, “What a jerk.”

The reader gets the point without swearing, and still may have the same opinion about John. Let’s go beyond that. If we want to change the reader’s opinion of John let’s try:

John thought, “He’s got the charm of a malcontented garden slug.”

We have successfully made the point (John doesn’t like Steve) yet we’ve gained some insight into John, who now appears thoughtful, witty, possibly educated, and, well, I’d like to shake that man’s hand!

This applies to expletives. If pulled off well, your audience will know exactly what’s being felt and feel it themselves. Classic examples of this are

– Frack (from Battlestar Galactica)

– Frell (from Farscape)

– Dren (from Farscape)

– Gorram (from Firefly)

– Hell’s bells (from the Dresden Files)

Turns out it’s not easy. In fact,when you’re writing making up a word that mean “f you” stops you dead in your tracks, making you lose your momentum and your own sense of urgency, or danger, or surprise. Now I’m not in that space of “I’m being attacked by thirteen goblins!” so much as staring into space asking, “What’s a good word for…?”

As writers, we’re supposed to be creative. To connect with people, we’re supposed to be realistic, even in our fictional works.

Try it. Send me a couple of ideas while you’re at it. Cripes, I’m always looking for good swear words!

Jax Daniels is a member of the Leasspell writer’s group and the author of the award-winning novel, The Dead Man’s Deal, a witty, entertaining mystery set in the New Orleans the tourists never get to see…


How Did a Math Major Write a Fantasy Novel?


Moreover, how did she get published?

Keep in mind that I majored in math for two reasons. The first was it was fun. It’s okay…I’ll wait for you to stop laughing. Really. I’m serious. I enjoyed it. I’m a puzzle person, and most mathematics is solving puzzles, which appealed to me.

But I confess that a part of me majored in math because it wasn’t English. It didn’t involve English. To get my degree I needed little more than English 101 to graduate, and that sounded like a good deal. In fact, I put it off until my senior year—yes, I hated English that much. The whole “writing papers” thing…what a wasted of time! And the reading! Bah!

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Interestingly, there was this other part of me, however, that daydreamed. A lot. A lot, a lot. I’ve been guilty of that since I was knee-high to a grass hopper. Music, TV, movies, all of these generated a constant stream of playmates, friends, and distractions. As I got older, these “phantoms” had adventures.

I decided to write these down.

Oh, they were horrible! I really needed to learn how to write. Yes, I could see these people and write what they did and said, but reading it was more like a description of animated robots. The writing was lifeless, colorless, and cumbersome.

Wow. I should have taken more English.

What’s the Deal with The Dead Man’s Deal?
A Review by Laura of Lurking



Strong language: None
Drugs: None
Violence: Yes, mainly arena battles
Sexual content: None

four stars

I received a final copy of this novel for free in return for an unbiased review. As a disclaimer, I am also in the same writing group as the author and have watched the book progress, but I have not allowed that to cloud my judgement.

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Winki Witherspoon is a widow of six months who has given up on life. When we meet her she is a wreck, dispirited, disengaged, and withering away to nothing both physically and emotionally. She is contacted by her husband Will’s lawyer, who insists as a part of Will’s will, he has to take her somewhere. Soon she pulls up at the  dilapidated Gateway Manor with its kooky staff and a horde of secrets, starting with the double life her husband’s been leading in the hidden underworld of New Orleans. Her new life has been handed to her, whether she likes it or not.

The novel is written in first person through the eyes of Winki. She has a great voice, revealing the emotion, whether depression, shock, anger, or that flash of excitement, with ease. The story has a fine mix of sarcasm and dry humour, such as “Oh yeah, just mocked by a roach.” I felt in the early chapters she jumped between emotions too often, fleeing the house or diving into shouting matches as her self-preservation method. This smoothed out as the book got going though, remaining just enough for comic relief, but allowing the plot to progress.

The secondary characters, many of whom have nicknames such as Jeeves, Mrs. Black, and Mrs. White are all well developed and get their moments in the spotlight. Having all known Will since he was a child, they all add emotional enrichment, plot twists, and deepen the discovery of the hidden world under Winki’s nose. My favourite character had to be Hercule, the talking cockroach that despite any reservations about the species had our entire writers group enamoured with him. He often acts as a buffer or defence for Winki when too much information or too many instructions are being thrown around, explaining things simply, even when she is less than happy to share the room with him!