Thursday, September 9, 2010


(OT: Celebrated 30 fabulous years with the LoML on Monday. We hosted 50 friends and family who gave up their holiday to spend it with us. We are blessed.)

Gems come in all shapes and sizes and colors and levels of clarity. I adore the ones given to me by my husband, but I'm also thrilled by the little ones I mine that come in print form.

Recently, I found a couple of things that are right up my antagonist's alley. One is a term I first saw in Timothy Hallinan's A Nail Through the Heart, and the second is from one of those Word of the Day things you can subscribe to.

The first time I ever heard the term "hungry ghost" was in Tim's wonderful novel. His series is set in Bangkok, and as I've mentioned once or twice *wink*, amazingly well written. I can't remember now what "hungry ghost" was in reference to, but I had the idea it might apply to my bad guy. I made a point of Googling (what a wonderful research tool!) the term after finishing his book, and found the following:

Hungry ghosts are found mostly in Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. We've all seen pictures of them. Huge, empty stomachs and tiny, pinhole mouths. Hungry ghosts have uber-thin necks so it's impossible for them to swallow even if they get anything in their mouths. They are tormented by unfulfilled cravings, having uncovered a terrible emptiness within themselves.

Those pieces of information work for my antag. What doesn't work as well is, according to Buddhist belief, hungry ghosts are people who have been reborn as these entities due to their greed, envy and jealousy. They are associated with addiction, obsession and compulsion. These elements don't fit quite as well because my guy's motivation is an absolute vacuum of emotion. His craving is to feel something—anything.

But I'm using it. Thank you Mr. Hallinan.

And my word?

Degage. Pronounced dey-gah-ZHEY. It has two definitions, and the second one fits my antag perfectly:

1. Unconstrained; easy, as in manner or style.
2. Without emotional involvement; detached.

Thank you, for your perfect timing.

Oh, and thank you, Love of My Life, for the stunning pearl necklace.

So tell me if you're willing . . . what kinds of gems have you mined?

CR: The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I too love words. I find something appealing and look for a place to use it, but then I remember James Kirkpatrick's advice--something about whenever I feel an urge to use an exotic word, I go and lie down till the urge goes away.
    I think his word was limiculous. But degage sounds lovely and seems so appropriate. Go for it!

  2. Ellis, one of my favorite authors is Anne Rivers Siddons. One of the reasons I enjoy her is the fact that she forces me to keep a notepad nearby so I can note down words to look up later. Even though I laughed at the advice about waiting for the urge to use a word to go away, I hate the idea of 'dumbing down' what I write. So I use a word or two that might create a pause. Tough.

    On my way to look up limiculous. It sounds devine.

  3. Degage is a wonderful word. Thanks for sharing.
    I'm another who lies down until the urge goes away though. I often use what I think is a clever word but then delete it because it slows the pace.
    Belated happy anniversary!

  4. Actually, in addition to new words, I like using a more common word in a fresh way. Siddons does that as well. As far as pacing is concerned, I agree that has to be a consideration, and Siddons is generally not concerned with the same pace we are as suspense writers. It would be interesting to find out how many readers are likely to skip over the odd word rather than stop and look it up.

  5. Congratulations on this milestone, Peg, and LOHL!! What a party that must've been.

    I love your word, and Tim's term, but even more, I love how you point to that phenomenon that happens when you're deeply immersed in novel writing. How bits of the world just start to come and fuel it, feed it--how everything is sifted through the filter of that novel.

    It's a wonderful time, on both fronts. Enjoy.

  6. Jenny, you're so right. There's a phrase I first heard from my dad, but have since heard from any number of people: "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

    That has proven true with a new word. When I first learn its meaning, I begin hearing and seeing it everywhere. It's proven true with spiritual learning—things I've read any number of times in the Bible or elsewhere suddenly cause all sorts of lightbulbs to flash that had remained dark before. And it's proven true with friendships and experiences and any other number of things.

    My filter is set with this novel, and I'm lovin' it.