Halloween Word Wednesday: Spooky, Frightful, and Scary

Happy Halloween everyone!

It’s my favorite time of the year. Our neighborhood is having a block party, so I’m putting together a craft table. My pumpkin garland still needs to hang straight, though.

There’s so much candy, so do come by. My teal pumpkin treats are all set: I got Halloween pencils, pumpkin erasers, and glow sticks. If you don’t know about teal pumpkins, they are placed in your trick-or-treat area to indicate that you have non-food treats for those trick-or-treaters with food allergies. Here’s my teal pumpkin:

I’ll be in costume, too. This year I’m thinking “Dark Fairy.” So don’t come to my door expecting candy if you’re not dressed up.


Learning new words and being able to find the word that means exactly what the story needs can mean the difference between a mediocre story and a brilliant one.

On Wednesdays we will identify an unusual word, provide its definition, and discuss its application or its impact.


Today’s Word Wednesday is a bundle of Halloween fun. I decided to look at the origins of “spooky” and “frightful.”

Let’s start with “spooky”:

A spook is a ghost, so this word means “like a ghost” or eerie or scary. Horses can also be spooked, making them nervous or skittish.

Frightful” has a few different meanings:

1) something that’s dreadful, terrible, or alarming
Fright is a sudden and extreme fear. It’s not a general word. When I was writing “Sea Dreams,” I used “fright” and then went back to change it to “anxiety,” since the character felt a long-lasting fear.
2) horrible, shocking, or revolting
We hear about “frightful” messes and such in 19th century gothic novels. To my ear it sounds very proper, but a “revolting mess” sounds worse than a “frightful” one.
3) unpleasant or disagreeable
This last use is a softer application of the second definition.

And what about “scary”? I was interested to discover that this word has two meanings:

1) causing fright or alarm
This is what I expected. However, “scary” can also mean
2) easily frightened or timid
I have never seen “scary” used this way, like “my scary toddler doesn’t like going upstairs in the dark.”

What other creepy Halloween words do you like to use this time of year?

Be Kind to Yourself

Nothing like re-reading last month’s thoughts to realize I could have FINISHED my 3-month workout program if I’d stayed the course this past month. Instead, I spent some time in the pool and tried to fit in a few workouts as I eased into the school year and our radically altered schedule.

So I present to you the motto I embraced after D was born and it seemed like life entirely fell apart: “be kind to yourself.”

No, it’s not groundbreaking or original, but it works for me. This morning I needed a quiet cup of tea and a few minutes of meditative silence to recharge and get out the door. I can’t express how much better I felt for taking the time to do that.

We all fill so many roles in life to the members of our family, to our jobs, to everyone but ourselves. If you’re working full-time, you don’t get to turn off being your kids’ parent, your spouse’s partner, or your moral self. It’s difficult to be everything you want to be to everyone all the time: sometimes you have to recognize and accept that you are good enough just the way you are.

Laundry doesn’t magically wash and fold itself any more than the dishes empty and reload the dishwasher themselves. Kids (and adults) make messes. Everyone needs food to eat, so someone needs to shop for it and cook it. If you have a house project, party, or a vacation to plan, you have to fit that in between everything else.

If you have a book to write…well, good luck to you. I count any words written as forward progress. More than 15,000 words into Book 3 of Sea Deception, I finally dug myself out of the hole created in the first scene that derailed my entire outline.

But when do you do the things that are good for you? I try to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. The only time I often find to write, though, is late at night. Sometimes a rough day means I want a glass of wine at dinner. And late writing sessions make getting up for a morning workout difficult. Combined with feeling out our new schedule, it means that I haven’t devoted sufficient effort to my workout program this month, though I have clocked a number of exercise minutes according to my fitness tracker.

I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert, but lately I’ve recognized longstanding habits that point to introversion. For example, I don’t like to leave the house if I don’t have to: there’s always plenty I can do inside the house. Luckily, my husband happily takes on the grocery shopping and takes the kiddos with him. I recharge my personal batteries by reading alone or spending time by myself. He wants to get out of the house on weekend evenings (understandably) but in this season of busyness, I want nothing more than to stay in and eat comfort food in my lounge clothes.

But I love to talk to people and enjoy socializing. I’ve worked in sales and loved doing theatre in school. It’s really hard to embarrass me: public speaking and last-minute requests to present just don’t faze me.

Every personality quiz I’ve taken for work identifies me as an extrovert. But all of those quizzes recommend that you put yourself in a work frame of mind. I found an online quiz yesterday that perfectly pegged the truth: I am a “public extrovert and private introvert.”

Finally, an explanation that reflects my need for alone time!