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?

Staying Inside the Lines

I don’t like adult coloring books. Coloring inside the lines of detailed drawings frustrates me because I lack the patience and precise tools to accomplish it well. But I stopped at the library today and passed a table inviting patrons to take a moment. So I did, with this result.

Imprecise, a little confused, very colorful: this bookmark summarizes how life has been going lately.

A major house project is nearly complete, and along the way a bunch of other stuff broke. But at least there’s a final-ish product that we can now use and enjoy. And the other items have now been replaced.

Traveling doesn’t make anything go smoother. Delayed flights, extra laundry, more stuff to put away, loss of home time, and missing the planned schedule…I feel like I’ve been on the road a fair bit of the summer.

One munchkin is about to start school…which makes both of us anxious. We did stop and get school supplies together, which was a fond childhood memory of mine I wanted to extend to her. Trying to readjust everyone’s schedule is much harder.

The other munchkin is about to have a birthday party. Some people love planning parties. Some people like crafting. I like the latter but not so much the former. Trying to balance the time I have with the work to be done is a fine line. I want to make him happy and I enjoy seeing my friends, but I struggle with doing enough and being happy with the result.

Then there’s another planned trip for which some prep work needs to be done. I’ve made a plan but haven’t executed–and won’t–until after the birthday is behind us.

Meanwhile I just started Month 2 of a three-month workout program. It’s kicking my behind: while I feel stronger, the scale refuses to budge. I am focusing on the “beginner” plan and doing it as well as I can. While it’s a hit on the ego to treat myself like a beginner, I do occasionally have to swap or add rest days to the program to keep myself going. I also don’t prioritize the time to do more exercise right now.

Work, of course, continues its daily slog.

The balance is always my writing. My remote coworker said today that we needed to regularly schedule our time together to get our work done because we always de-prioritize it in favor of everything else. There is wisdom to his words. It seems like making time to work on my writing always gets the least of my attention.

By the time the kids are abed and I get back downstairs to a desk, the question is not “how much do I care about this story?” but rather “can I do this story justice right now?”

I finished my final revision of “Sea Dreams” on a printout. This re-read and review uncovered a number of small problems with the manuscript. Right now I’m typing in the edits for the last seven scenes. After that, the story is off to beta-readers and the only changes to the story will be from their identified errors.

I’ve also got the sequel printed out to treat the same way (cutting one editing step from my original process). But I’d like to finish writing the third book before starting the sequel’s edit.

Recreation-wise, I’ve been wrapping up “Quantico” and watching the Netflix series “Anne with an E,” and I’m still only halfway through the past season for “Arrow” and “Big Bang Theory.” I’ve also been reading a few books, including a graphic novel and the memoir “I am Malala,” which I highly recommend.

So for now, it’s on to the next item on the to-do list while I try to keep a grasp of that evasive tranquility.

Do you feel like this season of life has been busy, or have you been coloring inside the lines?